Chanting “Yes, we can!” along with thousands of supporters, President Mauricio Macri pledged to lift salaries and economic growth as he began a final bid to come back in the polls ahead of a presidential vote next month where his chances of victory have been largely written off.
“This election can be turned around,” Macri told a crowd of thousands gathered in the Barrancas de Belgrano neighbourhood of the capital on Saturday.
He spoke from a stage in front of the recently remodelled Belgrano C station, after arriving there on train from the Olivos presidential race accompanied by First Lady Juliana Awada.
The '#SiSePuede' rally marked the start of a national campaign tour of "30 cities in 30 days" ahead of the October 27 vote.
Macri alluded to the pain suffered by Argentina’s middle class from austerity measures he implemented to secure a credit line with the International Monetary Fund. He called for continued support for pro-market reforms and promised to bring economic growth and higher salaries to the country.
"I know that in these years – especially this last year and a half – it was very difficult. I know that you, the middle class, were the ones who made the greatest efforts, especially among the middle class. But I have listened to you, I understand you," said Macri.
The president promised that, should he win re-election, "what comes next is growth, work, an improvement in wages and relief in your pocket at the end of the month."
Macri suffered a stunning defeat in PASO primary elections in August to Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández, whose surge in the polls sparked a sell-off of Argentine bonds and the peso, on concerns that a populist turn could unwind economic reforms and push the country toward default.
At a campaign event in the northwestern city of Salta on the same day, Fernández blamed Macri for sinking the country into a recession.
“All he did was plunge Argentines into poverty,” Fernandez said, website La Nación reported. “They came to end the default, and they leave us with default.”