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Political earthquake in Vaca Muerta, Argentina

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Politician giving a speech from behind the podium – Argentina

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Written by Mark B

On September 12, Argentina held mandatory primaries in preparation for the November 14 midterm congressional elections. In a severe blow to the monopoly of power by Neuquen Governor Omar Gutierrez (2015-) and former Neuquén Governor Jorge Sapag (2007-15), former Vice-Governor of Gutierrez (2015-19), Rolando “Rolo Figueroa”, he narrowly defeated Gutierrez and Sabag. He was handpicked in the 2021 MPN House of Representatives primary election.

This result represents a potential shift in the balance of power within the MPN, which has ruled Neuquén continuously since Argentina’s return to democracy in 1983. Figueroa has positioned himself in a very strong position to contest the MPN’s nomination for governor in 2023, a nomination in 10 consecutive gubernatorial elections. It was the governor’s ticket from Neuquén.

Neuquén is home to the Vaca Muerta shale play, which contains the second largest shale gas and the fourth largest shale oil reserves in the world. The province accounts for 59% of Argentina’s natural gas production and 37% of its oil production, proportions that are steadily increasing due to the energy company’s focus in shale in Vaca Muerta rather than traditional formations elsewhere in the country.

The primaries to select the candidates of each party or coalition for the elections to the Argentine Chamber of Deputies were held on 14 November. Neuken has five deputies in the House, with three deputies renewed this year, and with seats allotted via de Hondt’s proportional formula. the acting. Eight parties/coalitions competed in the primaries, five with one-party lists and three with multiple lists within the party.

The primary MPN was marked by three rolls. Gutierrez and Sapag chose Maria Eugenia “Maggie Ferrariso,” Secretary of the Neuquen County Legislature, to head their list. Another major roster included Figueroa, who served as deputy governor of Gutierrez between 2015 and 2019, having previously been mayor of Vaca Muerta in Chos Malall between 2011 and 2015. Hugo Raúc topped the third list. With 97.9% of the electoral districts registered, Figueroa’s List won 49.2% of the MPN’s primary vote, followed by Ferrariso with 47.4%, with Rauque taking third place with a wide margin of 3.4%.

The three MPN lists combined won 36.2% of the popular vote, a share that indicates the party is on track to win at least one of the three congressional seats in November, and possibly two. The latest result will give the MPN more negotiating power in the Argentine Chamber, where in December the majority of President Alberto Fernandez’s ruling Todos Front (FdT) party is expected to fall between 10 and 15 seats.

The Juntos para el Cambio (JxC) alliance of former President Mauricio Macri (2015-19), the country’s main opposition force, split in Neuquen. One list was introduced by a coalition of the two main JxC partners, Propuesta Republicana (PRO) and Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), along with a district-wide party (Nuevo Compromiso Neuquino). Heading this single list was Pablo Cervi of the University of California, who runs a successful fruit company. The third national member of the JxC coalition, Coalición Cívica (CC), chose his candidacy, journalist Carlos Eguia. The JxC and CC lists won 18.5% and 12.8% of the vote respectively, leaving both in contention for a seat in November.

The Frente de Todos primaries also included three lists. Tania Bertoldi (wife of Centenario’s mayor, Javier Bertoldi) heads the list closely related to President Alberto Fernandez and Vice President Cristina Fernandez, the legal and de facto leaders of the FdT party. Dario Martinez, who is currently slated to be the FdT nominee for Governor Neuquen in 2023, also backed Bertoldi’s list. Two other lists were headed by Asunción Miras Trabalone (a leader of a small party that is part of the FdT coalition) and Fabian Angar. The three lists combined won 15.8% of the vote, and Bertoldi’s list received 61.1% of the FdT vote, followed by Trabalón (20.8%) and Ungar (18.1%). The FdT will likely be in a position to win one of the three seats in November, although among the JxC, CC and FdT, only one party/coalition is guaranteed not to win a seat, and two will likely fail to send a deputy to Congress if MPN was still united.

Three small parties/coalitions ran individual lists in the primaries: Movimiento Libres del Sur (Libres), Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), and Partido Socialista (PS). The most prominent far left coalition in Argentina, the Iquierda de Trabagadores (FIT) had two competing lists. All four of these parties/coalitions have sufficiently finished the race that their odds of winning one of the three chamber seats in November are virtually zero: FIT (8.1%), Libres (5.2%), PS (2.2%), and MAS (1.2%, lower). from the 1.5% threshold needed to compete in November).

The primaries of the Communist Party of Neuquén 2023 gubernatorial are still more than a year away, but after yesterday’s results, it can be argued that the Neuquén politician is the best to be elected as governor in 2023. Within Argentina’s federal system, the Neuquén governor plays a crucial role in determining the future of Vaca Muerta.

Mark P. Jones, Ph.D., is a political science fellow at the Baker Institute, Joseph D. Jamil in Latin American Studies and Professor in the Department of Political Science at Rice University.

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Sources

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2/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/thebakersinstitute/2021/09/13/a-political-earthquake-in-argentinas-vaca-muerta/

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