Former president Mauricio Macri, the kingmaker of the deal that saw opposition presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich declare this week that she will support libertarian outsider Javier Milei in next month's run-off vote against Sergio Massa, has made his first public remarks on the crisis gripping Juntos por el Cambio.
In an interview with Radio Mitre, Macri – who organised the meeting at which Bullrich and Milei made up and forged an accord – denied that the opposition coalition is broken beyond repair and accused some of his allies in the the Unión Cívica Radical of "compromising" change and supporting Massa.
Most surprisingly, Macri, 64, then claimed his 11-year-old daughter, Antonia, had encouraged him to support the libertarian. "Antonia told me: Dad, you have to support Milei," he claimed.
The PRO party founder defended his new alliance with the libertarian, who he argued was the only one of the two presidential candidates who can deliver change. Slamming Massa as a liar, Macri claimed that Milei has "not lied to me once yet."
"I told Javier that the only thing that counts in life is your word, if you don't have your word, you can't do anything," said the former president.
"Milei is a demonstration of authority and austerity to get out of the hole. The least they are going to ask of us is that those who lead put in everything and take nothing. These [corruption] scandals can't continue to happen and we can't continue to hold our heads in our hands because they damage our hearts and make many people think that many public servants are the same and we are not the same," Macri said told Radio Mitre.
During the interview, journalist Eduardo Feinmann asked him if the agreement with Milei also included the incorporation of former economic officials from Macri's 2015-2019 government. Macri replied: "Here we have come to say that for the future of Argentina we are going to give support and not an agreement. It is unconditional support: it is not in exchange for anything. We have made the caveats that we believe should be moderated. We have not asked for anything, we have this attitude and I ratify it."
Macri went on to defend Bullrich, who has faced a wave of criticism from coalition allies like Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta (a PRO party colleague) and UCR leaders like Martín Lousteau and Gerardo Morales.
"They are people who like to put themselves above others. Patricia Bullrich was our presidential candidate, she won a primary election against a group of important leaders who had a different idea of change, a much more partial change," he said.
"How can they continue to disrespect her when she has shown leadership, she has shown her ideas. It is what she thinks, it is something so valuable because we are surrounded by so many people who say one thing and do another. She with her vision and reality said what I confirm that I adhere to: we are change or we are nothing," said Macri.
He also accused the Radicals of "compromising" with Massa and complained that when Lousteau was their ambassador to the United States, he "abandoned the embassy – it is one of the most important posts."
The PRO leader pushed back on rumours about the climate of secrecy surrounding the agreement with Milei, claiming that members of his coalition did the same with Massa.
"They have had permanent meetings with Massa, with Morales at the head, who has supported so many laws that Massa asked for... all the time compromising with things that harm the people," he claimed.
Macri also disagreed with the neutral stance chosen by some leaders of Juntos por el Cambio in the face of the dilemma posed by the binary nature of the run-off.
"Here there are two alternatives: neutrality to favour Massa or telling our voters, who vote freely," he added.
"The only proposal for change is not ours, but we should not go for this arrogant thing of wanting to impose the silence of one party when they are saying 'I'm going to vote, but never for Milei'," he said.
"There is no other [candidate]" on the ticket, he said, arguing that those not supporting Milei should "say so" and come out for Massa.