Patricia Bullrich has once again illustrated her determination to fight for Argentina’s presidency in 2023.
At a meeting on Tuesday unveiling some of the team who would make up her government, the PRO party leader enjoyed crucial support from former president Mauricio Macri. Expressing her enthusiasm for a presidential run, Bullrich presented three bills she would send to Congress in the event of becoming president.
The meeting of supporters, party activists and politicians is part of the former security minister’s new strategy, an attempt to prove that she has the team behind her to govern. That has often been a regular criticism of any presidential bid and a good number of those present on Tuesday are seen as “Macri’s” people. They would probably follow him if he seeks to compete in the opposition’s primaries. "The important thing is that they are here today," those close to Bullrich respond.
Macri’s presence at the gathering, however, was the highlight. Just a few weeks ago, the former president accompanied Horacio Rodríguez Larreta to a meeting of the Buenos Aires City cabinet. Soon after, the idea of organising an event for Bullrich's sector that would also include his presence began to take shape.
Macri is seeking a balance between PRO’s two main candidates for 2023. Within his entourage, they do not fail to mention María Eugenia Vidal as a potential candidate as well. And of course, they do not rule out his own chances either.
"We are working for the support of the people," sounds the voice of the bullrichistas. "It would be unfair to ask for [Macri’s] support, because we would have a tilted playing-field," they add. Of course, this is a hypothesis that assumes that the former president will not run again in 2023.
"I want you to trust that we are working to do what is best for Argentina, and that this team of people will always be by your side," Bullrich said, closing her speech with a nod to Macri.
Throughout the event, there were repeated speeches where the figure of the former president was highlighted in parallel with that of his former minister. In the background, posters reading 'Bullrichmania' could be seen, which were also replicated in the form of stickers on the chests of the leaders and activists. Onstage were figures including Alberto Föhrig and Gerardo Milman, Federico Pinedo, Mendoza councillor Sol Salinas and national deputy for Santa Fe, Federico Angelini, Tomás Santostéfano, Ariana Mielinger and Santiago Kovadloff.
In her speech, Bullrich said that her teams are working on three major bills, including a package of reforms. The first, to "de-bureaucratise, de-regulate, de-mafialise" the state, has identified more than 3,000 laws or regulations that should be repealed. The second is a tax reform package, which has specialist César Litvin working on it. "Of the more than 160 taxes that exist, only 11 account for 90 percent of the revenue, the rest are obstacles," he said. And the third – described as "the end of privileges" – would tackle issues linke public-sector jobs.
In addition, on economic matters, Bullrich assured that she would promote a bi-monetary system ("not dollarisation") to "formalise what is happening in practice" and that the Central Bank "will be prohibited from issuing money to finance the Treasury." She said she is working on these issues with economists Luciano Laspina, Carlos Melconian and Daniel Artana. The former minister also focused on security and said that in Rosario more "in-depth measures will be necessary, because the Gendarmerie (Border Guard) alone is not enough."
In one of the sections that most enthused the protagonists of 'Bullrichmania,' the PRO head said that "everyone who sits in a seat of representation, legislative or executive, needs to be clear about the changes they have to make, and those who do not dare to leave."
"This time we are going to make a change that will last forever," she declared enthusiastically.
The closing section of the event was headed by Macri, who focused on the internal disputes within the PRO and Juntos por el Cambio.
"If we fight among ourselves, who is going to believe us? People are not stupid, why would they believe that we can make a balanced government?” said the former president, adding: “Our challenge is not to compete in a PASO, but to be able to govern.”
Macri did, however, acknowledge the “frustration” felt by Argentines across the country, admitting that his party “are partly responsible.”
"We are not the new thing, we have been here for a few years now, with the prologue of change, and now we have to show that we are ready to take up the challenge,” he concluded.