Política argentina

Cable de EE UU señala que Balestrini, muy próximo a los Kirchner, apuesta a que Cristina Fernández no volverá a presentarse

El dirigente peronista cita a a Reutemann como uno de los dos miembros del Partido Justicialista mejor situados para la nominación

Date:2009-07-08 20:32:00
Source:Embassy Buenos Aires

DE RUEHBU #0801/01 1892032
P 082032Z JUL 09



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/08/2039


Classified By: CDA Tom Kelly for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d).

1. (C) Summary: CDA and Buenos Aires Province Vice-Governor
Alberto Balestrini discussed July 7 Argentina's political
panorama following former President Nestor Kirchner (NK) and
his Victory Front (FpV) slate's second-place finish in the
June 28 election in Buenos Aires province. A powerful
insider and Kirchner ally, Balestrini wrote off the first
couple as a political force in the future. He said that the
reduction in the size of the FpV's bloc in the next Congress
will require that the government negotiate and compromise.
Looking to the 2011 presidential race, he said the Peronist
Party (PJ) would meet next month to discuss a strategy and
presidential candidates. Balestrini ruled out a 2011
presidential run by either President Cristina Fernandez de
Kirchner or NK, and he said he believed the Kirchners realize
their star has faded. He opined that the Peronist nomination
for president would go to either newly- elected Senator
Carlos Reutemann or Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli.
Balestrini said that NK's performance in the election was
even worse than it seemed, arguing that the only reason NK
received the votes he did in the province was because he
hitched his wagon to popular provincial mayors and forced
them to run as candidates. End Summary.

The Elections As Seen By a Peronist Heavyweight
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (C) CDA Kelly met July 7 with close Kirchner ally Alberto
Balestrini, Vice Governor of Buenos Aires province. One of
former President Nestor Kirchner's (NK) closest and most
powerful political allies, Balestrini shared his views on the
political panorama following the ruling Victory Front's (FpV)
poor performance in the June 28 midterm elections. (Note:
Per reftel, the FpV won only about 30% of the vote
nationwide. In the race's key electoral district of Buenos
Aires province, the FpV led by NK placed second to Francisco
de Narvaez of the Peronist dissident-Republican Proposal
alliance, "Union-PRO.") Balestrini, who heads the national
Peronist party (PJ) Political Secretariat, was among the
party faithful called on by NK to run as candidates in Buenos
Aires, a list that included Governor Daniel Scioli and the
many popular PJ mayors in the province. Balestrini is a
heavyweight Peronist political baron from the Buenos Aires
suburbs. He was twice mayor in La Matanza, a huge, poor
municipality that has been a Peronist stronghold. Kirchner
reportedly did not concede defeat in the June 28 mid-term
elections until ballots from La Matanza had been counted.
The next day, when Kirchner resigned as head of the Peronist
party on the day after the elections, Balestrini and Scioli
were the only ones at his side.

3. (C) The Vice Governor sought to downplay the electoral
results. After evoking the words of PJ founder, former
President Juan Peron: "in elections, the people never make a
mistake," Balestrini asserted that the voters did not give a
mandate to any one political force. He explained that in the
257-member Lower House, the FpV now has 96 national deputy
seats, down from 115, while the Radical-Civic Coalition
alliance has 80 seats and the remaining members represent
other parties, including numerous provincially-based ones.
Balestrini suggested that because of the new congressional
composition, the government will need to negotiate and
compromise to achieve the 129 deputies necessary to convene a
session. He added that the government "will have to resolve"
the situation with the farm sector. To that end, he expected
the Kirchner administration to reduce export taxes on wheat
and corn while maintaining the current (and controversial)
export tax rates on soy and soy products.

Ks Out of the Running for 2011

4. (C) The Vice Governor ruled out the prospect of a 2011
presidential run for either President Cristina Fernandez de
Kirchner (CFK) or NK. Balestrini explained that, as a "close
friend of CFK," he believes the Kirchners understand their
star has faded. Balestrini said they could not achieve
either the simple majority or the 40% with at least a
ten-point margin over the runner-up that they needed to win
in the first round, and they knew they could not win a
run-off. Balestrini maintained the only reason NK received
the votes he did on June 28 was because of reverse coattails
-- he hitched his wagon to popular mayors by forcing them to
run as candidates for city council seats that they did not
intend to occupy.

5. (C) Balestrini identified preparations for the 2011

presidential elections as the Peronist Party's most pressing
priority. He noted that Governor Scioli, the new party
president following NK's resignation, plans to convene a
roundtable next month with 24 party officials, including
governors, deputies, and senators, to define a strategy and
determine a candidate. Responding to the CDA's question on
whether dialogue would also include discussions with
first-place finisher in Buenos Aires province Peronist
dissident De Narvaez, Balestrini said he did not consider De
Narvaez a Peronist but rather one who claims PJ credentials
to increase his electoral appeal. Balestrini maintained,
however, that the slate's second candidate, Felipe Sola, is a
Peronist, who "differs with us on the farm sector." He
grudgingly acknowledged that De Narvaez was likely to
participate actively in these consultations.

6. (C) With the Kirchners off the short list of presidential
candidates, he said the likely PJ presidential candidate will
be either Governor Scioli or Santa Fe Senator Carlos
Reutemann. On Scioli, he said the Governor maintains a
positive image despite the challenges he has faced in rising
crime and the economy in governing the country's largest
province. (Note: Scioli's image seems to have taken a
beating with his decision to run as a testimonial candidate
on Nestor Kirchner's slate in Buenos Aires province.
According to a mid-May poll from Management and Fit, Scioli's
positive image stood at 34.2%. This is not, in fact, that
far from Balestrini's own estimate of Scioli's positives,
which he put at 40%.) Balestrini said that Reutemann is a
strong candidate because he won in Santa Fe, the most
important province after Buenos Aires. (Note: Reutemann
narrowly defeated Socialist Ruben Giustiniani, 42.26% to
40.59%; Giustiniani in turn was backed by Socialist party
head and Presidential hopeful Governor Hermes Binner.)

7. (C) Balestrini dismissed recent press speculation that
the government was considering moving up the presidential
elections, constitutionally scheduled for the fourth Sunday
in October 2011. He said the PJ would most likely convene a
party primary in March 2011 to elect their presidential
candidate. The PJ was going to need the next year to sort
out its presidential candidate, he continued, and its
ascendant politicians would prevent the Kirchners from
imposing early elections if need be.

Upcoming Florida Vacations

8. (C) Balestrini relayed that both he and Governor Scioli
would soon be enjoying respective vacations in Florida. He
said the Governor would be leaving shortly for Florida and
that Balestrini would travel for one week once the Governor
returned home. Looking haggard, Balestrini remarked that the
vacation would be a welcome respite after a year marked by
one challenge after another, from the conflict with the farm
sector to the severe drought, the dengue outbreak, moving up
the midterm elections, and now the swine flu. He said that
Scioli was exhausted and in even greater need of a break than
he was.

Bio Data

9. (SBU) Balestrini's political career dates back to the
1960s when, as a law student at the Universidad del Salvador,
he founded a Peronist youth faction. From 1973-1975, he
served as legal advisor to La Matanza municipality. In 1975,
he served a one-year stint as advisor to the PJ bloc in the
Buenos Aires province legislature. From 1987 to 1989, he was
the advisor to the Presidency of the Central Market in Buenos
Aires and from 1989 to 1991 he served as managerial secretary
in the national Lower House. He served as a national deputy
from 1989 to 1995 and as a senator in the Buenos Aires
Province Senate from 1995 to 1999. He was elected Mayor of
La Matanza in 1999, serving in that capacity until 2005, when
he won a national deputy seat and was elected Speaker of the
House. Balestrini has served as vice governor since 2007 and
as head of the PJ political secretariat since May 2008. Born
on March 9, 1947 in Buenos Aires city, Balestrini and his
wife have six children.


10. (C) Balestrini is very close to the Kirchners, and some
say that NK in 2007 picked him to be Scioli's running mate to
keep the ambitious Scioli in line. One measure of NK's trust
in Balestrini is a highly speculative rumor that NK may coax
Scioli into taking the seat he won in Congress, leaving
Balestrini to run the province until 2011, when Scioli could

run for president and NK for governor. This meeting provided
an excellent opportunity to hear the views of a close,
trusted Kirchner ally in the wake of a disappointing
performance for the ruling FpV in the midterms. Balestrini's
downbeat comments on the Kirchners' political future suggests
how steeply their political stars have descended in the ten
days since the election.

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