Governing Parties Prevail In 4 Argentine Mining & Petro Province Election
On May 7 and May 14, the respective governing parties in the Argentine provinces of Jujuy, La Pampa, Salta and Tierra del Fuego were all victorious, insuring four more years in office for the incumbent governor in the latter three provinces and the victory of the handpicked successor of the incumbent governor in Jujuy.
Jujuy and Salta are two of Argentina’s principal Lithium Belt provinces, and combined contain 23 of the country’s 38 active lithium mining projects, in addition to 2 of the country’s 20 active copper mining projects. The gubernatorial election in San Juan, where 15 of Argentina’s 20 active copper mining projects are located, was scheduled for May 14, but at the last minute postponed due to a constitutional challenge to the incumbent governor Sergio Uñac’s ability to seek a third consecutive term.
La Pampa and Tierra del Fuego are among Argentina’s second tier petro-provinces, respectively accounting for 1% and 6% of Argentine natural gas production and 2% and 1% of Argentine petroleum production. In addition to being a leading mining province, Salta accounts for 3% of Argentine natural gas production.
Jujuy held its gubernatorial election on May 7. Incumbent Governor Gerardo Morales of the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), a leading member of the national opposition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) alliance, was constitutionally prevented from seeking a third consecutive term. Morales hand-picked his Finance Minister, Carlos Sadir, to be the governing Frente Cambia Jujuy (FCJ) standard bearer. Sadir won 50% of the vote, 28% ahead of the second-place finisher, Peronist Rubén Rivarola of the Frente Justicialista (FJ). In the legislative elections, where 24 of the 48 seats in the unicameral provincial legislature were renewed, the FCJ won 13 seats, while the Morales-aligned Primero Jujuy won another 2 seats. The opposition FJ won 6 seats and the far-left Frente de Izquierda won 3. Taking into account the seats won by the FCJ in 2021, for the next two years the FCJ will hold 31 of the 48 seats in the provincial legislature and the allied PJ 2.
Salta held its gubernatorial election on May 14. Incumbent Governor Gerardo Sáenz (one of two provincial governors closely allied with Argentina’s “Super” Minister of Economy Sergio Massa) easily won re-election with 48% of the vote, 31% ahead of his closest rival, Miguel Nanni (JxC), who won 17%. In the elections to renew one-half of the Salta Chamber of Deputies and one-half of the Salta Senate, the parties and alliances backing Sáenz won a combined 20 (out of 30) Chamber seats and 10 (out of 12) Senate seats. Taking into account the seats won by Sáenz supporters in 2021, the governor will have a robust legislative majority in both the Salta Chamber of Deputies (47 of 60 seats) and Senate (21 of 23 seats).
La Pampa held its gubernatorial election on May 14. Incumbent Governor Sergio Ziliotto of the Frente Justicialista Pampeano (FJP), which is allied with the governing Frente de Todos (FDT) of President Alberto Fernández and Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, won re-election with 48% of the vote, defeating Martín Berhongaray of the JxC-La Pampa who garnered 42%. In the concurrent election of the 30 members of the unicameral provincial legislature, the FJP won 15 seats, the JxC-LP 13 seats and Comunidad Organizada of Juan Carlos Tierno (who finished third in the gubernatorial race with 7%) won 2 seats. In La Pampa’s principal petro-county (Puelén Department) located at the eastern edge of the Vaca Muerta shale play, in the mayoral election in the county-seat of 25 de Mayo, Leonel Monsalve of the opposition JxC-LP was victorious with 43% of the vote.
Tierra del Fuego held its gubernatorial election on May 14. Unlike in Jujuy, Salta and La Pampa, where a simple plurality suffices for victory in the gubernatorial election, in Tierra del Fuego a candidate has to win 50% + 1 of the vote to avoid a second round runoff. Governor Gustavo Melella of the Unidos Hacemos Futuro (UHF) coalition (aligned at the national level with the governing FDT) won 51% of the vote, 40% ahead of the second place Hector Stefani (PRO) with 11%. Stefani was one of three JxC gubernatorial candidates, which failed to unify behind one candidate for governor. More than one in five (21%) of voters cast a blank ballot, generally seen as a form of protest against the entire political class. In the concurrent election for the 15 members of the unicameral provincial legislature, the parties backing Melella won 10 of the 15 seats, thereby providing the governor with a robust legislative majority for the next four years.
This post originally appeared in the Forbes blog on May ``16, 2023.