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Argentina: Buenos Aires Mayor Quits Presidential Race

On May 7, 2011, Mauricio Macri, current mayor of Buenos Aires, announced he would seek re-election as mayor on July 10 of this year. After weeks of suspense, his decision confirms that he is giving up the October presidential race.

As the leader of the Republican Proposal Party (PRO by its Spanish acronym), one of most important alternatives to the ruling Justicialist Party (PJ by its Spanish acronym), Macri was expected to run for president after one term in office as mayor of Buenos Aires. Yet the decision was not easy to make. A presidential win of the opposition remains uncertain, especially considering the renewed popularity of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

For now, the only other identified candidate for Buenos Aires City Council is the film-maker and leftist politician Fernand ‘Pino’ Solanas. President Kirchner is expected to release the identity of the official candidate soon, but it is likely that the candidate will either be Economy Minister Amado Boudou, Senator Daniel Filmus or Labour Minister Carlos Tomada.

Mauricio Macri at the Club 17 de Agosto, announcing he would seek reelection as Mayor of Buenos Aires. Photo by Flickr user Mauricio Macri, used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

Mauricio Macri at the Club 17 de Agosto, announcing he would seek reelection as Mayor of Buenos Aires. Photo by Flickr user Mauricio Macri, used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

Macri's announcement, which occurs after a long period of time, provoked opposite reactions, as the liberal, ex-businessman profoundly divides Argentine public opinion.

Twitter user Donato Spaccavento (@DrSpaccavento) ironically responds to Macri's decision:

Macri abandona otra vez la pelea presidencial y se refugia en la Ciudad..cuando le ganemos a él y a solanas juntos, va probar suerte en Boca.

Macri drops out again of the presidential challenge and shelters in the City… when we beat him and [Fernando Pino] Solanas, he will try his luck in Boca [Boca Juniors is one of the most emblematic national Argentine football clubs. Macri run Boca between 1995 and 2003, a period considered as one of the most successful of the club]

On the contrary, the economist Daiana Molero (@daianamol) criticizes the possible candidacy of official Minister Amadou Boudou, one of Macri's fiercest rivals:

Amado quiere salir a demoler a macri y a su gestion.Demolio superávit, demolió tipo d cambio competitivo.Demoler la ciudad no le va a costar

Amadou wants to go out and demolish Macri and his management. He [Boudou] demolished the fiscal surplus and a competitive exchange rate. To destroy the city won't be hard for him.

Indeed, his management of the Buenos Aires’ government is also widely discussed in the web.

The former journalist of the newspapers La Nación [es] and El Cronista Comercial [es], Hernán Haines, sharply criticizes [es] Macri's management and forecasts an electoral backlash for the current mayor:

En los tres años que lleva al frente de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Macri no ha cristalizado lo que prometió allá por 2007. Es más, el malhumor de los porteños crece sin pausa. Y los habitantes de la Capital Federal suelen castigar con el voto. No se comen cualquiera… Por otra parte, no ha podido, sabido o querido rodearse de funcionarios virtuosos, capaces de llevar a Buenos Aires a jugar en la liga de las grandes ciudades del mundo. En cambio, se ha encerrado en sus compañeros de colegio o en ex empleados del club de fútbol que alguna vez administró.

In the three years as head of the City of Buenos Aires, Macri has not materialized what he promised back around 2007 [year of his election]. What's more, the resentment of Buenos Aires inhabitants grows without pause. The inhabitants of the Federal Capital usually punish with their vote. They don't buy into anything… On the other hand, he [Macri] has been unable or unwilling to surround himself with virtuous civil servants capable of taking Buenos Aires to the select group of great world cities. Instead of that, he has [surrounded] himself with school friends and former employees of the football club [Boca Juniors] he once run.
Buenos Aires municipal palace. By Flickr user verovera78 (CC BY 2.0)

Buenos Aires municipal palace. By Flickr user verovera78 (CC BY 2.0)

For many bloggers, the future of Mauricio Macri seems unsure, as he himself admitted last week that it would be impossible to win the election in the first round.

Maria, in the blog Arte y Politica [es], defends the idea that the mayoral elections’ results depend on Proyecto Sur [es], the party of the challenger Pinos Solanas, who could gather support from the government coalition or Macri's PRO Party should there be a second round in the mayoral election:

La gran pregunta, que va a ser crucial en esta elección, es si Proyecto Sur competirá por sus votos con el FPV o con el Pro. O sea, si Solanas enfatizará su perfil de progresista luchador contra las multinacionales, o si se concentrará en presentarse como la acérrima oposición al gobierno nacional.

The big question, which is going to be crucial in this election, is whether Proyecto Sur will share his votes with the FPV [Front for Victory] or with the PRO. That is, whether Solanas will emphasize his profile as a fighter against multinational companies, or whether he will try to present himself as a fierce opponent of the national government.

Yet the most discussed question remains whether Mauricio Macri has what it takes to be a presidential candidate, and what would be the consequences of his decision for the divided opposition to the ruling Peronism. In his May 7 speech, Macri tried to call for opposition unity in the presidential election.

In his blog “Qué te parece…?,” Juan Carlos Lynch denounced the lack of political will in the opposition after many of its leaders abandonned the presidential race:

La pregunta que sigue es ¿qué pasa acá con la oposición? Hace algunas semanas había muchos que querían ser la cabeza de la oposición al Gobierno… de los 6 que en teoría todavía podrían estar pensando en eso, solamente 3 siguen en carrera. Porque los otros 3 decidieron simplemente “bajarse”. Hablo de Reutemann, de Pino Solanas y de Macri. ¿Cuál es mi lectura? Que falta vocación de hacer política grande. Que falta patriotismo. Que no hay conciencia de lo importante que es para un país tener un buen Presidente, pero también y sobre todo tener un buen jefe de la oposición.

The question now is: what's going on with the opposition? Some weeks ago, there were many [contestants] that wanted to lead the opposition against the Government… of the 6 that, in theory, could still be in a position to think about it, only 3 are still in the race. Because the other 3 just decided to “quit the race”. I'm speaking about Reutemann, Pino Solanas and Macri. What's my evaluation? That the will to do great politics is missing, that patriotism is missing. That they don't realize how important it is for a country to have a good President, but also and above all, [how important it is for a country] to have a good opposition leader.

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