The next Presidential election in Argentina is in 2015, with incumbent President Cristina Fernández stepping down after two terms. There are several potential candidates lining up to be nominated by the Partido Justicialista (PJ), the Peronist party of which Cristina and her late husband and predecessor as President, Néstor Kirchner, are a part. It's not unusual in Argentina now for parties to make electoral coalitions on which they run and organize their voting blocs in Congress. The Peronist party is currently running as the lead party of the Frente para la Victoria (FpV).
Página/12 asked seven leading potential candidates, which they call "precandidates," for the FpV nomination to talk about the legacy of Néstor Kirchner, who died four years ago. (El Néstor Kirchner que yo conocí 26.10.2014)
It's an interesting way to get them to state their general outlook by asking them to focus on a symbolic figure, whose image is in some ways a more important symbol for Peronists now that the party founder Juan Perón or even Evita.
The candidates who contributed to the tributes are Julián Domínguez (President of the Cámara de Diputados, the lower House of Congress), Aníbal Fernández (Senator and former head of Cristina's Cabinet), Florencio Randazzo (Minster of the Interior and Transportation), Agustín Rossi (Defense Minister), Daniel Scioli (Governor of Buenos Aires province), Jorge Taiana (Legislator for Buenos Aires City) and Sergio Urribarri (Governor of Entre Ríos).
Scioli and Urribarri have previously emphasized their adherence to the political direction of kirchnerismo, the term used to describe the social-democratic policies of Néstor and Cristina. (Contra el frente derogador Página/12 20.10.2014)
In this current piece, Scioli makes particular mention of his approval of the economic policies of kirchnerismo that defy the neoliberal orthodoxy. "Sigamos sus políticas de desendeudamiento e inclusión," he says. ("We will continue to follow his policies of debt reduction and inclusion.")
Urribarri goes light on policy, light as in not mentioning any. He focuses instead on an anecdote about Néstor and declares that he won the confidence of both Kirchners.
Dominguez praises Néstor for sticking to his policies in his Presidency in dealing with "un default irresponsablemente generado por las tropelías de los noventa" ("a default irresponsibly generated by the outrages of the 90s"). He also praises Néstor for politicizing young people across the political spectrum, which may a condescending way of dismissing La Campora, the Peronist youth organization that is a pillar of support for kirchnerista policies. But Dominguez also praises Néstor at the end for his promotion of the organization of South American nations UNASUR, for his assertive policy in defending the Malvinas Islands as Argentine territory, and his policy of judicial accountability for criminals of the military dictatorship of 1976-83.
Fernández calls Néstor "el Perón de mi época" ("the Perón of my era"), in politician's style putting the phrase into the mouth of an anonymous young person he heard talking about Néstor's death. And he tells what in America the blogger Digby would call a "Tipnronnie" story, referring to the favorite tale of our Pod Pundits about how Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill and President St. Reagan would argue over policy during the day and then get together and have a friendly beer in the evening. Fernández' message here to the PJ base seems to be: don't hate because I may oppose some favorite policies of kirchnerismo.
Randazzo recounts Néstor's support against the economic cartels.
Rossi praises Néstor in a grandly symbolic way: he made a lot of young people enthusiastic about politics, he was "el dirigente político más importante de la primera década del siglo XXI en la Argentina" ("the most important political leader of the first decade of the 21st century in Argentina"). The latter comes off like a not-too-subtle dig at Cristina. His contribution sounds like a carefully-parsed press release from a politician trying not to irritate the PJ base while avoiding signalling a clear direction.
Taiana emphasizes his participation with Néstor in negotiations with Colombia to get Argentine prisoners of the guerrilla group FARC released, emphasizing Néstor's priority on building regional alliances, which Cristina has continued.