President Mauricio Macri has finally announced his running-mate for October's election: Miguel Ángel Pichetto.
With less than a day to go before electoral fronts have to be confirmed for August's PASO primaries, the Cambiemos leader confirmed this afternoon that he would run for president seconded by Pichetto, a national senator and opposition leader of the Justicalist Party (PJ) caucus – the chamber's biggest – in the upper house.
The news was confirmed to Noticias Argentinas by official sources, who told the agency the government was seeking to add a Peronist branch to its coalition, following pressure from its existing UCR allies to expand and broaden Cambiemos. Pichetto, 68, is associated with the Alternativa Federal ("Federal Alternative") space grouping together non-Kirchnerite Peronists.
Just a few minutes later, President Macri tweeted the news out himself, saying that senator for Río Negro would "accompany" his re-election bid.
"We Argentines face a historic opportunity to consolidate our democracy," the president wrote. "In the upcoming elections we will decide whether we want to live in a republic or return to populist authoritarianism."
"We want a country where everyone can progress through their work. For that we need to integrate into the world and look toward the future. We want a democracy with pluralism, freedom of the press and defence of human rights," he added.
"For all this we will need to build agreements with a lot generosity and patriotism, where all Argentines who share these values can contribute from their place. Bearing this in mind, I want to announce that Miguel Ángel Pichetto will accompany me as a candidate for vice-president of the nation."
The president described Pichetto as "a statesman" with a deep "commitment" to Argentina and its institutions. The senator was allied with former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner during her 2007-2015 administration, but has since broken with her and heads a more moderate opposition faction.
Pichetto is expected to give a press conference later today, but on Monday night he had taken to the airwaves to confess he was "disturbed by the idea of Argentina going back in time" – a reference to the 'Fernández-Fernández' ticket made up of Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Speaking to LN+, Pichetto said that October's election was a choice "between a capitalist model and one of interventionism of the past."
"The process of President Macri culminates in 2023, in historical and political terms," he declared, praising the Cambiemos leader for returning Argentina to the world and improving relations with Western powers.
Pichetto also acknowledged that Alternativa Federal had lost some of its weight, following ex-economy minister's Roberto Lavagna's decision to go it alone under the 'Consenso19' banner and Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa's "uncertainty."
Massa is expected to announce this afternoon that he will offer his support to the 'Fernández-Fernández' ticket.
The move ends a run of success for Macri and his normal running-mate, current Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, who accompanied the PRO leader in his successful bid for to become mayor of Buenos Aires City in 2011.
Michetti herself later tweeted that she was sending "a big hug" to the senator.