Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta has announced he will not support libertarian outsider Javier Milei or ruling coalition candidate Sergio Massa in next month’s presidential run-off.
“I'm not going to tell people who to vote for,” he declared at a press conference on Tuesday. “Kirchnerism and Milei are both bad for Argentina.”
Rodríguez Larreta, 57, became the latest big name in local politics to publicly state his position on Argentina’s crunch November 19 showdown after an eventful day in local politics that has pushed the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition close to breaking-point.
Earlier in the day, the coalition’s presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich and vice-presidential candidate Luis Petri, who finished third in last Sunday’s election said they would support Milei in the second round.
The decision angered leaders in the Unión Cívica Radical, one of the coalition’s three parties, and members in Bullrich’s PRO party, including Rodríguez Larreta, who said he had not been party to “secret” talks between the camps.
Former president Mauricio Macri, widely seen as the broker of the deal that saw Bullrich and Milei repair relations, is known to favour Milei.
Speaking at City Hall on Wednesday, Rodríguez Larreta said he couldn’t willingly back either candidate.
“The two options are very bad for all the Argentines,” said the mayor, who lost the opposition coalition’s primary to Bullrich.
“Massa is the choice of populism and Kirchnerism. The choice of inflation and the money-printing machine,” said Rodríguez Larreta, who admitted the opposition had suffered “a big defeat on Sunday.”
“I have always confronted Kirchnerism. There is no chance that I would be part of a Kirchnerite government,” said the mayor, who described the ruling coalition as “the total opposition of what I represent.”
Moving onto Milei, the outspoken economist who has shaken up the presidential race, Rodríguez Larreta said he rejected the libertarian’s proposals, which he described as “very bad” for the country.
He also highlighted a string of derogatory and insulting remarks delivered by Milei on the campaign trail, criticising the economist’s “aggressive” rhetoric.
“I don’t believe in anything that Milei proposes. I don’t believe in any of it,” the PRO member stated. “His ideas are bad and dangerous. It’s not good for the country, it’s what I think, it’s my convictions.”
Expressing exasperation at the choice before him, Rodríguez Larreta said he would not support either option but would rather offer another choice. He said he would fight for the opposition’s future.
“The third alternative is to work to maintain Juntos por el Cambio as the biggest force [in Congress]. We must get out of the trip of choosing between two catastrophic options,” he declared.
Rodríguez Larreta said he did not share Bullrich’s stance. “Obviously I have a different position,” going on to reveal he knew nothing about the meeting between Bullrich, Macri and Milei on Tuesday night when the deal was struck.
He noted that “secret meetings” left him ill at ease and said he did not find out about the talks or the agreement until the following morning when PRO party leaders met at Bullrich’s apartment in Palermo.
Rodríguez Larreta’s remarks make him the latest opposition name to show his colours. Former Buenos Aires Province governor María Eugenia Vidal, a party colleague, echoed his position on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, UCR Chairman Gerardo Morales and Vice-Chair, Senator Martín Lousteau, held a press conference in Buenos Aires, at which they denounced the “intolerable” stance adopted by Bullrich and Macri.
Morales accused the former president of wanting to break up the coalition. "Macri is happy because that is what he wanted," stressed the outgoing Jujuy Province governor.
"What Patricia has done is highly irresponsible, she is not the person to speak on behalf of the six million people who voted for us. They are responsible for putting Juntos por el Cambio at risk,” he added.
“Tensions exist, they are obvious,” admitted Rodríguez Larreta on Wednesday, as he responded to a question about unrest within the opposition’s ranks.
The City mayor did not deny that Juntos por el Cambio could fracture but said he would work tirelessly to expand the coalition without end in order to acquire a big enough force to put a “brake” on Kirchnerism and Peronism.
“What is important is unity,” Rodríguez Larreta added. “We have to recognise errors and learn from them.”
On Wednesday evening, the opposition coalition’s incumbent and elected governors said they would meet to establish a common position for the run-off. Sources indicated to the Noticias Argentinas news agency that the group favours neutrality.
On entering the meeting, Mendoza Province governor-elect Alfredo Cornejo said that, beyond the personal positioning in favour of Milei, "Juntos por el Cambio is still alive.”
Corrientes Province Governor Gustavo Valdés added: "No politician is going to decide for any of the citizens.”