While everyone’s eyes are focused on President Mauricio Macri and Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Lavagna has emerged as a third option, looking to attract voters from both sectors. The so-called grieta, which illustrates the deep polarisation experienced by the Argentine electorate, is his main enemy.
This week, Lavagna gave his first in depth interview to Perfil’s Jorge Fontevecchia, which will come out in full on Sunday. A televised preview was aired on Net TV network Thursday, in which the former economy minister claimed “Argentina has the capacity to grow at a steady rate of four to five percent per annum for years.”
Lavagna, respected by both Peronists and the Radical Civic Union (UCR), is primarily remembered for having led the economy out of the 2001 implosion, transitioning from the government of Eduardo Duhalde to that of Néstor Kirchner. Having helped lay the economic foundations that Kirchner would later build upon, he left the government after a series of disagreements with the then-president, the last of which was accusing businessmen in the construction sector of collusion.
That same group of businessmen are now under suspicion in the so-called “cuadernos” graft scandal, yet Lavagna didn’t look to take political credit for his foreshadowing in the interview: “I’m not going to lead a campaign tied to corruption,” he told Fontevecchia, arguing there are more important issues at stake.
“Nations default once every 200 years, not every 15 years,” explained the economist. “We need to create a project based on progress, order, peace and social justice.”
In order to do this, Lavagna believes in a national unity government, a “renegotiation” with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that ends austerity measures and “puts into motion the excess resources of this advantaged land.”
Part of his economic plan involves an adjustment of relative prices which guarantee a competitive exchange rate, but focused on a productivity model rather than deficit reduction.
Addressing Macri and Fernández de Kirchner, Lavagna sounded defiant, saying: “Both have a will to go for everything, to believe they have been called upon at a specific moment to govern, therefore ignoring the rest.”
While he hasn’t formally admitted he will run, Lavagna was undoutedly in full campaign mode.
“There is demand for a change from what Macri and Cristina are offering,” he said. “Let’s
leave behind marketing experts and pseudo-idealists who
have no clear projects for our
nation and let’s define one focused on order, progress, peace
and social justice,” he repeated.