The Mauricio Macri government is set to face its greatest battle to date during the 2019 general elections. The President will stand for reelection amid ongoing uncertainty about the country’s near-term economic future.
One name that has gained momentum as a potential candidate for the presidency is 76-year-old economist Roberto Lavanga, a man whose supporters claim has the technical capacity to guide the country’s economy through rough seas while also healing the wounds of more than a decade of social and political polarisation.
Among other links to Argentina's Executive branch, Lavanga was economy minister under former president Néstor Kirchner, from 2002 to 2005; Argentina’s ambassador to the United Nations, from 2000 to 2002; and former president Raúl Alfonsín’s Industry and Foreign Trade Secretary from 1985 to 1987.
He is currently a member of the Renewal Front, a Peronist splinter group led by Sergio Massa.
“I would like Roberto Lavanga to be a presidential candidate. He’s an experienced man. I’m convinced Lavanaga is prepared to be a candidate in 2019”, former president Eduardo Duhalde proclaimed last month, speaking to FM La Patriada.
Several Peronist leaders have long expressed their interest in running for the presidency but insiders say some, like Massa, would be willing to put their ambitions on hold in favour of a Lavanga victory.
Lavanga ran for president in 2007, placing third behind Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Elisa Carrió. He secured over three million votes, or 16.91 percent, and secured the most votes in a key electoral battleground, Córdoba province.
The former economy minister is highly regarded across the political spectrum. That has proven true in a recent poll by D’Alessio/Berensztein, which has included Lavanga in its polling since February.
As pessimism sets in over the economy and Macri’s political capital recedes, Lavanga’s image has improved 10 points from February, according to the pollster. Fifty-five percent of those polled have a positive image of Lavanga, placing him in front of Buenos Aires province Governor María Eugenia Vidal with 53 percent.
When it comes to polarisation, Lavanga’s image is unique. Among those who have a positive image of the former economy minister, 48 percent voted for Macri’s Cambiemos coalition in the last election and 61 percent voted for Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Victory Front, D’Alessio/Berensztein reported.