The mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, has formalized his candidacy for president of Argentina for the elections on October 22. Heir to Mauricio Macri, who left the government of the capital for the presidency in 2015, Rodríguez Larreta aspires to return in the footsteps of his political boss and try to defeat the ruling Peronism in the general elections. After months of touring the country, the mayor of Buenos Aires made his candidacy official this Thursday with a video filmed in the southern tip of Patagonia. His proposal, launched from kilometer zero of Route 40, a highway that connects the entire country, is to present himself as a solution from the center and dialogue: “Either we end the crack, or the crack ends with Argentina” .
The set of Horacio Rodríguez Larreta (Buenos Aires, 57 years old) is not a surprise. Head of Government of the city of Buenos Aires since December 2015, when he succeeded Macri who had just won the presidential elections, Rodríguez Larreta was his natural successor for a long time. He accompanied Macri as one of the founders of the Republican Proposal (PRO), the center-right party with which he governed the city and the country, and was his most faithful companion for almost 20 years: he shared a ticket with his political boss in his first – and unsuccessful – candidacy in the city in 2003, and was chief of its ministers from when he won in 2007 until he became president. “Many ask me if I dream of becoming president,” he recalled in his first official campaign video. “It would be an honor, but it is not a place you arrive at. The presidency has to be the beginning of the path of the great transformation”.
His candidacy is one of the few forecasts that have been taken for granted about this year’s elections. The ruling Peronism led by Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner has not defined a candidate, despite the fact that last week it declared a ceasefire in the battle of factions that has maintained the president and vice president of the country on opposite fronts for almost a year. . In the opposition coalition of Together for Change, whose majority is the PRO, there are no certainties either.
One of the harshest criticisms of Rodríguez Larreta’s candidacy arose precisely from his space. On Wednesday, the day before launching his candidacy, the current president of his party dropped a hint on him. “There is no room for lukewarm responses to the sad reality that Argentines are suffering,” Patricia Bullrich, Mauricio Macri’s former security minister in the central government, who has emerged as his main competitor from a more hard right wing, wrote on Twitter. She was not the only surprise on the eve of the start of the campaign. That same day, María Eugenia Vidal, former governor of the province of Buenos Aires since the macrismo, inaugurated her campaign offices with the visit of the political chief. The photo of her with Macri, uploaded to the networks on Wednesday, has fueled the debate about which of the three candidates in her space will end up being the boss’s favorite in the next elections. Macri has also not made it clear if he plans to participate in the fight.
The irruption of the libertarian extreme right has blown up the road map of the Macrista right. Rodríguez Larreta, who this Thursday presented himself as an option from the center, has turned in recent months to more radical positions in the hope that neither Bullrich nor the libertarian deputy and media economist Javier Milei will take away harsher votes from him. During the pandemic, Rodríguez Larreta showed that centrist side by photographing himself with President Alberto Fernández and fellow Peronist Axel Kicillof, governor of the province of Buenos Aires, and planning health policies alongside him, although he ended up facing them. The shift has been evident in the policies he has carried out in the city: in June of last year, he banned inclusive language in city schools after promoting it; this January he introduced former Rep. Cynthia Hotton, a conservative evangelical who opposed decriminalizing abortion, as a social affairs adviser to his cabinet; And this week he revived an old dispute between his administration and the central government over the use of special weapons that city police have access to.
“My forte is working, working and working,” Rodríguez Larreta said in the presentation of his campaign, in which he also stated that he will seek “a country where it is produced in all corners. A country that is a pride from wherever you look at it. A country with common sense, where we all point to the same side”. If he manages to be president, the road will be uphill. The support of the social movements that prefer Peronism does not await him, year-on-year inflation has reached 98.8% this month, and the payment schedule with the International Monetary Fund remains to be met: 45,000 million dollars, the largest in the history of the organization, which was awarded to Macri in his last year of government.
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