BUENOS AIRES, March 10 (UPI) -- Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is seeking to wean her administration away from the powerful Peronist constituency before October elections in a strategy that critics say is fraught with risks for her political future.
Fernandez hasn't announced her intention to run for a second term. Instead, she has sent out feelers to political supporters outside the Peronist movement to sound them out on chances of supporting her re-election on a broad-based ticket.
Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo, in the clearest hint yet of the president's strategy, called on all political parties to support the Front for Victory, the left-wing faction of the Peronist Justicialist Party that is backed by and in turn backs Fernandez.
A split between left-wing and right-wing Peronists within the Justicialist Party deepened after the 2003 presidential election and the Front gained enough strength before the 2007 election to enable Fernandez to become president. But, by the mid-term election in 2009, the Front lost steam, costing Fernandez seats in both chambers of the National Congress.
The president's political strategists now want to make sure there'll be enough support for a broad-based government before announcing if Fernandez will run for office again.
Randazzo said the government hoped for a broad consensus as the idea was "not to have Peronist Party members as the main stars of the electoral process."
He explained, "We want parties to join the combined-list ballots without thinking they would get in trouble," in what the media described as an invitation to members of other parties to rally behind Fernandez despite risk they might be accused of disloyalty to their own parties.
Activists from other parties have been promised a sweetener -- selection for the vice presidential role.
Analysts said in media commentaries that Fernandez is trying to dilute her dependency on the powerful Peronist movement whose right-wing faction is known to have been lukewarm toward her in the past.
Peronist critics of Fernandez reacted angrily to the ploy, accusing the president of trying to undermine the Peronist movement.
Asked when Fernandez could announce her candidacy, Randazzo said, "We will all have to wait a bit more to announce the president's candidacy."
The president's plans for the next terms were given a major setback when powerful unions supportive of Fernandez issued calls for significant salary increases to bring their wages into line with the inflationary spiral.
The government has issued edicts discouraging the use of terms such as inflation and advised instead the use of substitute phrases like "price distortion."