Former economy minister Roberto Lavagna, who has repeatedly pitched himself as a politician who could break through Argentina's starkly polarised politics, officially launched his presidential campaign on Wednesday.
He argued his party represented the best chance of a so-called "third way" of governance and described his position as "in the middle, as an alternative to the two poles – neither with [Mauricio] Macri nor with Cristina [Fernández de Kirchner]."
Inaugurating the bunker of his 'Consenso 19' party, Lavagna also confirmed his departure from the Alternativa Federal ("Federal Alternative") movement associated with his former ally, Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa.
At a campaign event, Lavagna said he would prioritise an "increase in consumption, production and exports" if elected. He also vowed to "lower to zero" the tax burden faced by small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs, or PyMES) and improve the business environment for entrepeneurs.
"We are going to apply policies to increase consumption, production and exports, and we will reduce taxes on the profits of SMEs and young entrepreneurs, on the condition that they reinvest," he declared in his speech outlining potential policies.
Lavagna, who served as economy minister from 2002 to 2005 under presidents Eduardo Duhalde and Néstor Kirchner, launched his campaign at his party's headquarters on the corner of Cerrito and Paraguay streets in Recoleta.
Notably however, other political figures were mostly absent, including potential allies such as Santa Fe Governor Miguel Lifschitz amd GEM leader Margarita Stolbizer, who Lavagna is said to be talking to.
As the candidate spoke, he was watched on by ex-Duhalde government officials and trade unionists associated with union-leader Luis Barrionuevo, who leads the restaurant-workers' union.
'Years of failure'
Lavagna repeatedly took aim at both President Mauricio Macri and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, detailing how his candidacy stood distinct from the famous 'grieta' that polarises Argentina.
"We have already had eight years of failures, four years of a populist government and four years of conservatism, whose only interest is financial income," he said.
Walking around the room as he spoke, microphone in hand, Lavagna said his party stood alone in a 20-minute address, promising to deliver a "consensus government."
The rest of the world "works with coalition governments," he argued, and so could Argentina.
"We said it from the first day: We are not with Macri, or Cristina. Both sides of the grieta believe that we are a danger to his power. Both defend the trap," he declared.
A Lavagna administrtion would have three fundamental pillars, he added: the strengthening of republican democracy; the recovery of the economy; and improving education and early nutrition for the nation's children.
Speaking Thursday, the head of Lavagna's campaign team, Alejandro "Topo" Rodríguez, said the former economy minister would seek to improve industrial production in Argentina.
"In our campaign we are going to put a lot of emphasis on the need to have a government, and a governor [in Buenos Aires Province] that understands production," he said.
Rodríguez also took aim at gubernational candidate Axel Kicillof, declaring that "when he was [economy] minister he destroyed the wheat industry and he does not know the province."