Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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ARGENTINA | 20-09-2022 15:20

No formal approach but a long-shot CFK-Macri summit remains a possibility

Argentina’s Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner recognises that were she to sit down with anybody from the opposition, it would be with the ex-president, whom she considers is the true boss of Juntos por el Cambio. Mauricio Macri would agree to the meeting but believes that Cristina must make the invitation.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner speaks of dialogue with every sector, without giving names. Until now there have only been a few public statements though her entourage assures reporters that nobody should be ruled out, least of all Mauricio Macri.

The Senate head agrees with this in private –  if she had to sit down with anybody as the leader of the ruling coalition, it would be with the opposition’s top man. But there has been no formal summons, which is why Macri’s inner circle speaks of this being only a “fantasy hypothesis.” Nevertheless, the Juntos por el Cambio leader has, in private, already evaluated with his team the possibility of meeting the Veep.

Upon returning from a tour of Junín and Pergamino on September 16, Macri went to his family’s ‘Los Abrojos’ country home,where that same evening he had a Zoom session with a group of collaborators going over the lines and issues of his speeches for the next few days. In particular, they paid attention to the possibility of a summit with Fernández de Kirchner.

“Until now there have only been statements,” they in his team affirm, assuring that “there is nothing” in terms of contact – neither calls nor concrete messages from the Vice-President up until now.

The inner circles in the Senate admit that there have been no formal summons. Who would do so in CFK’s name? Only she herself – there are no possible middlemen. If she were ready to call and head up dialogue, it would not even be her son Máximo Kirchner who would intercede: the vice-president would do it directly. And with whom would she sit down?

“There is no one single figure on the other side but what’s true is that Macri heads the opposition,” they say in her entourage.

The PRO leader believes that it is the government which should make the invitation, not him.

“For now for us it is a pantomime which will not last more than a few days,” one of his closest aides affirmed to Perfil.

Those close to the ex-president assure that the intentions of their counterpart confidants are a product of the “disorder” in political terms among the ruling coalition.

“I really never saw them so disordered,” they are heard to say, “it all seems rhetorical.”

Those close to the ex-president assure that the intentions of their counterpart confidants are a product of the “disorder” in political terms among the ruling coalition.

“I really never saw them so disordered,” they are heard to say, “it all seems rhetorical.”

One of the closest confidants of the ex-president compares Kirchnerism to the fable of the scorpion and the frog – in his opinion Frente de Todos “will bite” the opposition because “that is their political nature.” It is in this sense that Macri observes the erratic (in his judgement) conduct of CFK, while Alberto Fernández is worse still.

“The only one moving in any direction is [Economy Minister Sergio] Massa,” he tends to repeat, while adding that he will not succeed in reviving the economy.

Those years are far behind when she was president and he was City mayor and in a telephone exchange at the start of her second term, CFK told him: “Engineer, it’s down to you and me.”

 

Speculation and intermediaries

A summit over a month ago between Senator José Torello, one of Macri’s best friends, and the vice-president led to plenty of speculation. Even if the ex-president knew of that meeting, brief and frosty, that chat did not turn into anything more – not even a “red telephone” hotline, according to those close to the PRO founder.

Nor is it even clear that Macri himself picked Torello as his favoured middleman. That meeting, he affirms, was engineered by his former Colegio Cardenal Newman classmate and not at his request. He sums up that meeting as  “institutional,” not even responding to a message from Peronist deputy Eduardo Valdés.

But there is more about the zero dialogue between government and opposition. The Senate head was surprised that only one opposition leader sent her a message of solidarity over the assassination attempt she suffered on September 1: Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales. Two other leaders did so via Máximo Kirchner: Senator Martín Lousteau and deputy Emiliano Yacobitti. All three of them Radicals – nobody from PRO or the Civic Coalition.

Within the Senate this was striking, contrasting with the veep’s gesture towards then Senator Esteban Bullrich when she found out that he was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), despite the political differences between them. 

Kirchnerism questions Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who places limits on an agreement with their sector. It was Senator Oscar Parrilli who said: “Cristina never set limits to dialogue.” 

Why would CFK want to sit down with the opposition? To re-establish rule in political debate, lower the levels of aggression and agree on state policies, among them the YPF-Petronas agreement for the industrialisation of shale gas. The closest confidants of the former two-term president say that it will not be easy for them to sit down at the same table.

“One thing is real: every time one of them tried to link up with us, coalition allies came forward to lash out at them. It happened to María Eugenia Vidal when she had some dialogue with Máximo, to Horacio Rodríguez Larreta when he was talking to the president or to Gerardo Morales,” they relate. 

“My conditions for sitting down with the vice-president are truth, justice and compliance with the Constitution,” said Macri to one of his middlemen recently.

“These days there is no agenda of issues we could touch,” added the ex-president, concluding: “PRO was born as a party of dialogue and they were not, it’s not in their spirit.”

Such was the drift of Macri’s interview last weekend on the LN+ television news channel with Luis Majul, his last public appearance for a while before travelling again to the United States for a lecture tour and then to Europe for activities related to the FIFA Foundation, which he chairs.

In contrast, CFK will be concentrating this week on preparing her case for the Vialidad highway corruption trial, as well as keeping a close eye on the investigation of the attack against her. 

The possibility of a dialogue between both leaders seems remote although neither of them, crucially, rules it out.

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by Rosario Ayerdi & Ezequiel Spillman, Perfil

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