The candidates to be the next mayor of the nation’s capital clashed on television on Thursday night as mocking and clashes dominated the first debate between the four rivals.
Taking place just 25 days before voters go to the polls to choose the next leader of Buenos Aires City, Jorge Macri (Juntos por el Cambio), Leandro Santoro (Unión por la Patria), Ramiro Marra (La Libertad Avanza) and Vanina Biassi (Frente de Izquierda y Trajadores-Unidad) answered and posed questions on topics including autonomy, politics, justice, security, health, education, culture, housing and gender diversity, among other topics.
Many of the attack-lines in the clash sounded pre-rehearsed as the rivals attempted to land a fatal blow to their opponents’ electoral chances. Macri and Santoro were targeted for the most part, though the debate was dominated by the unusual, aggressive and unsettling tone of libertarian hopeful Marra.
Macri, in particular, came under attack due to his previous position as mayor of Vicente López. Having taken ‘leave’ in order to join the City government as a minister last year ahead of his run for office, Macri’s credentials as a ‘true’ porteño were queried by Santoro, among others.
It was not the only clash between the duo, who later got into it when talking about the development of the city.
"This city has no lithium, no renewable energy, no countryside, but it does have human capital, the porteños,” said Macri. “We have the possibility of making a hub such as public and private health and universities where human capital is trained, we also have sectors such as innovation and content creators that conquer the world and the only thing they want is to bring their dollars. The city has a wonderful future with a state that does not burden them with taxes.”
Santoro responded by pointed out that before running for mayor, Macri "used to say that the exceptions to the planning code in Vicente López were an act of corruption, but when he took office he sanctioned 500″ new projects.
"What guarantees do we porteños have that you are not going to do the same thing you did in Vicente López if you win?" asked the Unión por la Patria leader.
"What is to be expected from a Kirchnerite candidate is that he lies. The number is false and I am proud of my administration in Vicente López,” responded the Juntos por el Cambio hopeful.
Marra takes spotlight
Unsurprisingly, given his controversial public persona and aggressive political approach, Marra seized his chance to build greater awareness of his electoral campaign.
At one point during the debate, he fired off criticism of City Hall and Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta’s administration, describing the capital as “disgusting” and slamming the lack of repairs to roads and pavements.
For the most part, he targeted Santoro as he seeks to push the Peronist candidate into second place.
Marra, however, also came under attack for his policies, his previous work in the private sector and the time he was sanctioned by the CNV national securities commission – a debate approach he described as tantamount to ”political persecution.”
His rivals also highlighted previous comments he has made calling for the removal of comprehensive sex education in schools and suggested that children should watch pornography to learn about sex.
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising moment came when Marra, clashing with left-winger Biassi, slammed picketers who take their children with them on marches.
“Today, at the Labour Ministry, I walked down the street and saw a picket line. There was a woman breastfeeding a baby there in the street,” complained Marra, who accused the left of “abusing the poor.”
Biasi responded simply: "And why the fuck do you care what women do?”