Argentinian rabbi wins handily in parliament primary

Campaign photo of the PRO party candidates with Kipá, with Sergio Bergman on the right.

Campaign photo of the PRO party candidates with Kipá, with Sergio Bergman on the right.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Rabbi Sergio Bergman won the most votes in the midterm congressional primary elections in Argentina, his first national test for a seat in parliament.

Bergman, a Buenos Aires city lawmaker for the center-right PRO Party, had 27.7 percent of the votes in Sunday’s primary for the lower house of the National Congress. He was followed by the Peronist candidate Juan Cabandie with 18.9 percent.

There was no opposition within each party; the referendum was a harbinger of the Oct. 27 midterm elections. In Buenos Aires city, the PRO Party is among the more prominent parties running against the national Peronist government led by Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Bergman will lead the ticket for the center-right PRO Party in Argentina’s national elections as its candidate for the lower house. He is the first rabbi to lead a national ticket in Argentina.

The senior rabbi of the traditional Congregacion Israelita Argentina, he is the founder of Active Memory, a group that demonstrated every Monday for a decade seeking justice for the victims of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

In July 2011, he handily won his Legislature seat with 45 percent of the vote, also then defeating Cabandie.

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