The just over a million registered voters in the Argentine northern province of Salta, next to Bolivia, went to the polls on Sunday to choose candidates for the coming provincial election of governor, lawmakers and city councillors, to be held on 10 November.
Although a provincial affair, given the Argentine presidential election the last Sunday of October, it was important to see how the different hopefuls, and their long distance supporters, fared in the contest.
And as happened in Mendoza a couple of weeks ago, provincial issues prevailed, and the winning candidate, with a local coalition of parties, was the current mayor of the provincial capital, Salta, Gustavo Saenz, who collected 43.1% of votes, and although a Peronist, he does not belong to the Kirchnerite branch.
The runner up was Sergio Leavy, from the Front for All, who garnered with another postulant 31% of votes. This is most significant mainly for two reasons, Leavy was openly supported by opposition presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez (and Cristina Fernandez) who had him on his bandwagon and promised a visit to Salta before 10 November.
Likewise it again confirms that holding provincial primaries when the national PASO vote last August 11 was a mistake, which proved disastrous for the ruling coalition of president Mauricio Macri and his reelection bid.
According to Salta province media, Sáenz a very capable politician, had the support of the current governor, Juan Manuel Urtubey, who is running in the presidential ticket of Federal Consensus, next to Roberto Lavagna. The Urtubey are a very strong politically and financial family in Salta. The province represents 2% of the total electoral registry of Argentina.
Saenz had an overwhelming support in the capital Salta and the provincial second city Oran, while Leavy obtained a landslide victory in his home city Tartagal.
Saenz as well as Urtubey, both belong to the Peronist catch all movement but are no fans of Kirchnerism, although they learnt how to live and deal with the Kirchner couple when they were undisputed rulers of Argentina and its political scenario.
In his first statements after being confirmed as Salta's most voted governor candidate, Saenz promised that if he is finally elected we will work with whoever is Argentine president, shoulder to shoulder, but always defending the interests of Salta and 'salteños'.
The coalition of parties and groupings which supported Saenz bid in the primaries is numerous and among them is the local branch of Macri's PRO, 'Republican Proposal'.