It was the announcement that shocked everyone. Argentina’s former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner wouldn’t run for president. Instead, her former cabinet chief Alberto Fernández would be her party’s candidate, and she’d be his running mate. Kirchner was expected to lead the ticket herself and was ahead of incumbent Mauricio Macri in many recent polls.
Fernández, who lacks charisma or political support of his own, had only recently returned as Cristina’s main political advisor after a decade of being highly critical of the former president. After quitting as her chief of staff in 2008, he was vocally against some of Kirchner’s most controversial policies, including a reform to increase political control over the judiciary, a fight with the agricultural sector, an attempt to curtail the influence of a critical media conglomerate, and an agreement with Iran to investigate a terrorist attack in Buenos Aires.
Some analysts see this track record as proof that Fernández would be a moderating force to a highly ideological Kirchner. But Kirchner was never as rigid in her ideology as her detractors – and some devout supporters – may have believed. After all, why would a hard ideologue pick the moderate Daniel Scioli as her preferred successor in 2015 and now Fernández in 2019?