President Mauricio Macri has picked a moderate Peronist, Senator Miguel Pichetto, as his vice-president running mate ahead of the presidential election on 27 October (primaries will be held on 11 August). A former Kirchnerite and recent critic of Macri, Pichetto has in recent years become a moderate Peronist, moving into the Alternativa Federal (AF) camp.
The move could be described as a surprise, but we believe observers had expected Macri either to choose somebody from within his ruling Cambiemos coalition or seek to bring in a moderate Peronist (a few names had been mentioned). Reports suggest Cambiemos has been talking with the AF for a while.
The choice of Pichetto might mean that another moderate Peronist (perhaps Juan Manuel Urtubey) will be the choice of the AF camp (if they decide to stand), leaving Pichetto free to form another alliance, or it may signal that the AF have decided not to offer a candidate, leaving Pichetto free to go elsewhere. If there is no AF candidate, Macri’s choice could help to gain him the support of other moderate Peronists (which might swing up to c30% of the vote towards Macri).
The news probably also means that Sergio Massa (regarded as a kingmaker) will support the Peronist ticket of Alberto Fernández-Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK), rather than join Macri’s ticket. Macri-Massa might have posed a very strong challenge to CFK. But, as much as Massa does not seem to get on with CFK, he does have a relationship with Alberto Fernández.
This move will likely be seen as positive for Macri as it could widen his support base outside Cambiemos and draw disaffected Peronists (especially those that just cannot support CFK). However, some Cambiemos supporters could see it as a sign of weakness, suggesting that Macri is so unpopular (and he his), that he has been forced into picking Pichetto to improve his electoral chances.
The move might also be seen as positive for investors as it could signal that the presidential race will collapse into two choices – Macri/moderates versus Kirchnerites – and remove the danger that the moderate Peronist movement will also stand and risk splitting the vote in favour of CFK.