Italo Argentino Luder, a veteran politician known for quiet political skills rather than crowd appeal, won the presidential nomination of Argentina's populist Peronist party today following a national convention that left the party wounded by internal feuds but still favored to win next month's national elections.
Luder, 66, who served as Senate president and interim national president under the Peronist government overturned by the military in 1976, was named presidential candidate by acclamation early this morning in a party delegates' session closed to the public and press. He had previously been endorsed by a majority of the leadership of the National Justicialist Movement following negotiations last month that led to the withdrawal of rival candidates.
The nomination, which followed two weeks of bitter and occasionally violent feuding in provincial halls and courtrooms by rival party factions, marked an uneasy accommodation by the Peronist movement to a new structure of leadership following its failure in Argentina's last civilian government and more than seven years of military rule.
Luder was the first Peronist presidential candidate not selected by party founder Juan Domingo Peron, the charismatic leader who dominated both Peronism and Argentine politics between 1945 and his death in 1974.
The party ticket was also selected without the intervention or participation of Peron's widow and successor as president, Isabel Martinez de Peron. Isabel Peron, who remains in exile in Spain, was named party president by the convention but is expected to play a largely symbolic role in the future.
The Perons' traditionally autocratic role in the movement was replaced by hard bargaining among factions led by Peronist labor leaders. Peronist union officials, who dominate Argentina's labor movement, were credited with negotiating Luder's nomination and succeeded in placing labor loyalists in the top positions for congressional candidates.
The leader of the Peronist party's labor wing, metalworkers' union president Lorenzo Miguel, was elected vice president of the party and was expected to be its top acting authority.
Luder's nomination, however, reflected continuing confusion in Peronism over its leadership and image. In contrast to the charismatic and authoritarian style of Juan Peron, Luder is known as an intelligent and low-keyed politician skilled in theory and tactics but lacking in outward flair.
During a year of campaigning, Luder rose above other Peronist candidates by stubbornly remaining neutral among the myriad internal party factions, but also did little to unite them.
In an ironic reversal of decades of political tradition, Peronist party leaders said they expect Luder to emerge as the moderate alternative in the Oct. 30 elections to the more charismatic candidate of the rival centrist Radical Party, Raul Alfonsin.
Despite the shift in style and leadership, Luder's program for government reflects the Peronists' traditional nationalism and faith in state-sponsored economic growth and redistributive policies.
The Peronist platform, also approved early this morning, calls for negotiation of an agreement by government, industry and labor on wages and other key economic factors, a policy followed with mixed success by previous Peronist governments.
Luder, a constitutional lawyer, also has advocated state control of bank loans through nationalization of deposits, stimulation of the economy through wage increases and renegotiation of Argentina's foreign debt of nearly $40 billion.
In foreign policy, the Peronists reiterated their adherence to the nonaligned "third position" long advocated but only vaguely defined by Peron, and pledged to seek the recovery of the Falkland Islands from Britain through peaceful means.
In competing with Alfonsin in a basically two-candidate race, Luder will have the advantages of a party organization with 3.2 million members--twice the number of Radicals--and a tradition of powerful loyalty among many Argentines to the still-revered image of Peron.
He appears likely to suffer from an arduous party reorganization that in many instances failed to replace traditional strong-arm practices with democratic procedures.