Mauricio Macri asked Argentina to “vote for the future” in the PASO primaries this weekend, as he drew campaigning to a close on Thursday night in Vicente López.
After weeks of campaigning, the president’s Juntos por el Cambio coalition closed off its pitch to voters in Greater Buenos Aires, where María Eugenia Vidal is facing what analysts are calling “the mother of all battles” to win re-election.
The Buenos Aires Province governor faces a strong challenge from former economy minister and Frente de Todos challenger Axel Kicillof in a crucial race for the country’s most-populous district.
“Bonaerenses, do not miss this opportunity, don’t lose María Eugenia Vidal,” declared Macri from a 360-degree circular stage in the middle of the Centro Asturiano on Thursday, as he addressed a crowd of supporters and key allies.
In contrast to many of his campaign stops, the president dedicated much of his speech to Vidal and her governance of the province, which she won in 2015, defeating Kirchnerite candidate Aníbal Fernández.
“I want to tell the people of Buenos Aires that they never have to doubt the level of dedication and love that this woman has for the province and for each person in the province,” declared Macri. “She will be there because she has courage, capacity, tenacity, and all that combines into a unique sensibility.”
Pleading with voters in the region to back her again in the PASOs, Macri described Vidal as “a lioness” and asked voters to once again choose to leave behind “so many years of neglect” and back his coalition’s project.
“You don’t know the admiration, affection and respect I have for this woman,” said Macri, welling up with tears.
Catching his breath, the crowd broke into chants of “Yes we can.”
There was some time for levity, however. The president explained to the crowd that he was emotional because it was international Day of the Cat – a reference to the opposition branding of him as a ‘gato.’
‘THE PRIORITY IS YOU’
Like the president, Vidal herself became emotional during her address to the crowd, as she told voters that “her heart was in the 17 million people that live in this province” and asked them to “continue holding my hand.”
The governor told Argentines they should back Juntos por el Cambio on Sunday “not only because it is a right, but because it is a huge opportunity to decide with your voice.”
“I am not here for the position. I did not come to get rich. I came to take on the fights that nobody wanted to take on, so we can live better,” she declared.
“The priority is you, it is your children, it is your family. The priority for me is not a face without a name, for me they have a face, a name, a surname,” said Vidal.
The importance of the election in Buenos Aires Province was illustrated by the attendance of many key Juntos por el Cambio figures at the event. As well as the coalition’s first candidate for national deputy in the region, Cristian Ritondo, and Macri’s vice-presidential running-mate, Peronist senator Miguel Ángel Pichetto, key politicians such as Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña; City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie were in attendance. Candidate for senator in the City, Martín Lousteau, now back in the fold, was also present.
Closing his speech and raising his voice, in the manner that has become typical of his latest campaign appearances, President Macri declared “this Sunday is very important,” adding that “uncertainty hurts us.”
“It will define if we continue towards the future or return to the past. It will define if we continue to fight against drugtrafficking, mafias and corruption,” he declared.
Following his passionate address, the president will now hope for a few moments of calm as he awaits the results on Sunday’s vote.
On Friday, the Juntos por el Cambio leader huddled at the Olivos presidential residence with his most important allies, including his vice-presidential running-mate Pichetto, Marcos Peña, Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio, María Eugenia Vidal and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.
He will cast his vote on Sunday morning at a school in Palermo, before lunching with his family.
Sunday evening, he will
await results at his party’s
bunker in Costa Salguero, eagerly awaiting the final results
of the PASOs.