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ARGENTINA | 27-03-2023 17:41

Inside Macri's withdrawal and what it means for PRO's presidential hopefuls

Argentina’s former president has confirmed that he will not stand for the presidency. Behind-the-scenes of Mauricio Macri’s decision and what next for Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Patricia Bullrich and María Eugenia Vidal.

Last Saturday, March 25, at María Eugenia Vidal's wedding, Mauricio Macri spent part of the evening telling those around him how much he is into playing bridge. He was spoke about his other passion: football. Macri was one of the first to ask the national deputy to dance when the party really got started. He was in a very good mood. The former president even joked with Horacio Rodríguez Larreta about the mayoral candidacies in the City. He seemed relaxed. Comfortable. He spent part of the evening chatting with Rodríguez Larreta and Hernán Lacunza, his former economy minister who now works with both Rodríguez Larreta and Vidal. 

At the beginning of March, Marci said his collaborators that “when I return from Europe, I will announce my decision." Most of the winks prior to his announcement had been in the same direction: being a mentor to the presidential hopefuls and supporting opposition candidates in other provinces. In confidential meetings, he made it clear that, although he had not made a final decision, he wanted to collaborate with the growth of another generation of leaders and encourage Juntos por el Cambio to return to power. To such an extent that, for example, his former justice minister, Germán Garavano, was asked to collaborate with Rodríguez Larreta and PRO party chief Patricia Bullrich, the other frontrunner for the nomination.

During these months, flirting with a candidacy allowed him, first of all, to generate expectation and keep himself at the centre of the national political conversation. This, added to his many international connections, placed him at the centre of the scene. Whenever he chose to appear publicly or to make his position on issues known, people took note. A tweet was enough to generate repercussions and opinions.

Last year, before leaving his office on Avenida Libertador (which he exchanged for another because the owner who lent it to him, a businessman from Santiago, had problems with the courts), Macri maintained that his decision would be based not only on the political considerations, he would also think of his family. His wife, Juliana Awada, but above all his daughter Antonia, opposed a return to the Casa Rosada from day one. For the former head of state, they were always the priority, especially if it was his turn to return.

Another fact that encouraged the idea that he should not run for his second term is the simple fact that the majority of his closest advisors are already part of the teams put together by Rodríguez Larreta, Bullrich and Vidal. For example, Lacunza, Pablo Avelluto (former culture minister), Jorge Faurie (ex-foreign minister), Guillermo Dietrich (former transport minister) and Luis Caputo (ex-Central Bank chief) are collaborating with the Buenos Aires City mayor. Meanwhile, Hernán Lombardi (former head of state media), Dante Sica (ex-production minister) and Federico Pinedo (former provisional president of the Senate), have joined the PRO chief’s ranks. In addition, Lacunza is working with Vidal, as is the former president’s ex-private secretary, Darío Nieto.

 

Video announcement

In the video Macri made certain definitions. When he spoke of abandoning "messianic" leaderships, it was read as the first criticism of Javier Milei, without mentioning the outspoken libertarian by name. He spoke of "teams" and other types of leadership. Music to the ears of Rodríguez Larreta, those words are similar to the rhetoric the City mayor has been using.

At the same time, Bullrich quickly came out to state that the drop has strengthened her presidential bid. An objective fact: if the former president decided to compete, by sharing part of her electorate, it would have objectively weakened her. Macri "gave the speech to Horacio and the political break to Patricia," one of the most important lawmakers in the opposition PRO party told Perfil. For now, nothing indicates that Macri’s decision will tip the balance in favour of either of them, and the former president continues to encourage Vidal to grow her candidacy.

The opposition coalition's second-largest party, the UCR, took the opportunity to congratulate Macri on social networks. Especially those closest to the former president and those he has been listening to most attentively. From  deputy Rodrigo De Loredo and the head of the UCR bloc, Mario Negri, to senator Carolina Losada. 

Despite his announcement, Macri does not intend to abandon his political vocation: he will continue to be seen campaigning in support of gubernatorial candidates – as in the case of Mario Markic in Santa Cruz, Rogelio Frigerio in Entre Ríos or Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Torres in Chubut – and he will not cease in raising his voice against Kirchnerism.

On Friday morning, Macri met alone with Rodríguez Larreta at the Tenis Club Argentino in Olvis. He did not discuss candidacies but they went over the provincial races and the politicians that the PRO has in play. The former head of state believes that it will be key for the next president to have a league of governors to help him – something he did not have when he governed, with just four in support.

He did, however, deliver a scathing assessment of Sergio Massa and the state of Argentina’s economy, before predicting that, with these levels of inflation, that Frente de Todos’ days in power are numbered.

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Ezequiel Spillman

Ezequiel Spillman

Editor de Política de Diario Perfil. Mail: [email protected]

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