Following claims of 'friendly fire', cracks are clearly surfacing in the Argentine ruling coalition strategy to conquer lost ground in the 25 October presidential vote which has forced a runoff on 22 November. Daniel Scioli was expected to beat his runner up by almost ten votes, but this did not happen, in effect Mauricio Macri was defeated by a mere 2.5 percentage points and his PRO party won the governorship of the strategic Buenos Aires province, Argentina's main electoral district.
The latest comments to emerge were from Interior and Transport Minister, Florencio Randazzo, a frustrated presidential candidate, and from the head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, a human rights leading group, Estela Carlotto, who have supported the Kirchner's policies on the issue from 2003.
The president decided that Scioli was to be the candidate, and you just have to look at the results, said Randazzo who admitted he really felt bad when Cristina Fernandez denied him support in his quest for the presidential seat.
Randazzo insisted that it was President Cristina Fernandez who decided that Scioli was to be the incumbent presidential candidate, and the results are there for everybody to see them.
He was referring to the scarce 2.5 percentage points difference Scioli managed over runner up Mauricio Macri. He also rejected the possibility of any post in the next cabinet if effectively Scioli manages to climb back to favorite.
Furthermore there was speculation in government sources that Randazzo made public his feelings and strong statement because he wants to be fired from the cabinet which could happen any moment.
However Carlos Zannini, the Legal and Technical Secretary of the Argentine Executive, vice-president candidate in the ticket with Scioli and a man of utmost confidence of Cristina Fernandez, rejected Randazzo's statement arguing that it was not the president that had decided Scioli's nomination.
Zannini said that last June a few days before the closing date to register candidates for August primaries, Randazzo informed president Cristina Fernandez that he was dropping out of the primaries' race as an incumbent presidential hopeful. Allegedly he even refused making up the ticket with Axel Kicillof, the current Economy minister, and another most influential figure in the Cristina Fernandez bunker.
There was no primary competition in the Victory Front grouping simply because Randazzo did not turn up, said Zannini.
In my opinion, Randazzo did not want to compete, but was expecting Cristina to anoint him, but Cristina made no anointments. We all saw the majority of leaders who supported the candidacy of Scioli, underlined Zannini.
The vice-president candidate added that Randazzo is speculating with Scioli's defeat and is looking to have pictures taken of him next to members of the opposition, and warned ”you don't flirt that way in politics. Furthermore I believe he didn't like to see me run as vice-president with Daniel (Scioli).
In similar terms Ms. Carlotto admitted that 'it could be' that voters somehow got fed up with the ruling coalition. However she was more contemplative and compared the situation to a couple in love, there will be reconciliation.
It could be that they are fed up, but I believe that something similar has happened in the past when people got fed up with the Radicales and at other times with Peronism, according to an interview with a government financed newspaper.
Sometimes people get fed up because of the influence from the media, which repeat and repeat and stuff into people things which are not correct. It's like a couple in love, one of the sides gets fed up with certain customs, attitudes and they must be corrected, not claim divorce.
Estela Carlotto also criticized the opposition candidate from Let's change, Mauricio Macri and anticipated a government under his leadership would be dreadful for human rights policies, and recalled that while he was mayor of Buenos Aires City, he cut funds and subventions we enjoyed.
Thus, when it comes to Macri, no confidence vote from us, on the contrary a great concern regarding what his human rights policies might be”, concluded the head of Plaza de Mayo Grandmothers.
These comments follow on recriminations among some of the incumbent candidates who did not fare well on 25 October. Particularly Anibal Fernandez, the cabinet chief who every morning had a strong reply for all those who dared question president Cristina Fernandez or her statements. Remember when he argued that Argentina had less poor people than Germany, unashamedly confirming statements of Cristina Fernandez before a FAO meeting in Rome on hunger.
Anibal Fernandez as candidate for governor of the province of Buenos Aires, and as successor of Scioli, was defeated by a relatively new comer in politics, Maria Eugenia Vidal from Macri's party. He was labeled the great loser while Ms. Vidal the great surprise winner on 25 October.
The defeated candidate, not only toned down his aggressive speech but strongly pointed to 'friendly fire', using the military expression, to describe his dramatic under performance.