Thursday, May 23, 2024

ARGENTINA | 06-07-2022 16:12

‘Silvina the Greek’: minister with political profile becomes consensus pick

With a political profile located on the left wing of the ruling coalition, economist Silvina Batakis emerged as the consensus figure to lead the Economy Ministry.

With a high political profile located on the left wing of the ruling coalition, economist Silvina Batakis, 53, has emerged as the consensus figure to lead the Economy Ministry in the midst of a crisis of governability with inflation spinning out of control.

Batakis’ career has always been in public life. Her most prominent post was as provincial economy minister between 2011 and 2015 when Buenos Aires Province was governed by veteran Peronist and former presidential candidate Daniel Scioli, who became Argentina’s productive development minister last month.

"Silvina is a woman who is in contact with the real economy and with people with everyday problems," said Scioli, speaking last Monday, "She has the humility to know how to listen and the firmness to take the decisions which have to be taken. She’s predictable and reliable."

Described as a loyal militant in line with Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, her appointment has created a bridge in the very difficult relationship between the ex-president and current President Alberto Fernández.

"There is no such thing as dignified poverty. It’s just poverty and must be fought with a state which plans and intervenes and with a society which imposes that as a social objective," reads one post on her Twitter account with an accompanying photo showing the Madres de Plaza de Mayo human rights organisation.

Until now she served as the provinces secretary at the Interior Ministry.

‘The Greek’

Of Greek and German descent, Batakis cultivates a low profile and a relaxed style of leadership within her work team, with whom she has traditionally shared mate and sweet snacks.
Her friends call her ‘la griega’ (“the Greek”) and describe her as optimistic and amusing. She is Argentina’s second female economy minister after Felisa Miceli (2005-2007).

Born in Tierra del Fuego Province, her father worked for the YPF state oil company, a job which saw the family living in different parts of the country.

Batakis studied at La Plata National University where she graduated as an economist with a post-graduate degree in Public Finance. She did a further post-graduate degree in Environment, Economics and Ecology at York University in Britain with further studies in France and Chile.

Her mother was a Peronist municipal councillor in Taco Pozo, Chaco Province, inculcating in her an interest in politics. Her father transmitted his passion for football – she is a keen fan of Boca Juniors. She has a teenage son.

Informal in style with an easy smile, Batakis does not regularly use make-up but is said to have a preference for dresses. And although she defends women’s rights, she does not consider herself to be a feminist.

"I like people opening the door for me, giving me flowers and I wouldn’t dream of paying the bill," she once affirmed.



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