Argentina's former Minister of Economy Roberto Lavagna announced Thursday he would be running for the presidency in next October's election with the purpose of offering an overcoming alternative.
The heterodox economist made the official announcement in interviews with two of Buenos Aires main dailies, La Nacion and Clarin, announcing he was open to dialogue "with everybody" to build political alliances and avoid a proliferation of opposition candidacies. "I'm giving the final touches to the presentation of my presidential candidacy. It's a definitive decision", emphasized the economist turned into politician who took the reins of Argentina's economy in the midst of the meltdown, under caretaker president Eduardo Duhalde (2002/03), and left in November 2005 with the economy back on track and expanding at almost two digits. The presidential pre-candidate said he had avoided talking about his aspirations in 2006 because it was not an electoral year, "and I keep promises", adding his main purpose is to transmit to the people "the idea of an overcoming alternative, because I believe we must protect what has been built so far". After leaving his post, following serious discrepancies with President Nestor Kirchner, Lavagna spent his time building his own political space, and this is the first time he officially announces he will be running next October. The former minister insisted his intention to run is independent of the fact "if Kirchner or, his wife First Lady Senator Cristina Fernandez is candidate". Lavagna has been critical of what he describes as "institutional deviations" of the Kirchner administration such as the special powers for the management of the country's budget, the policy of unlimited re-elections for provincial governments, tampering with the Judicial branch and some yellow lights in the economy pinpointing excessive outlays, greater fiscal pressure, floating sovereign debt and a drop in primary surpluses. Although the period for presidential hopefuls to register has yet to open, former president Carlos Menem announced he would be running and so did centre left Congress member Elisa Carrió. In the Kirchner camp it's not clear whether the president will bid for another four years or his wife Senator Cristina Fernandez will run as the incumbent candidate. On the conservative wing, businessman and president of Argentina's most popular football team Mauricio Macri, is yet to decide between running for the Casa Rosada or governor of the city of Buenos Aires, a natural springboard for the Argentine presidency possibly in 2011. In recent months Lavagna held talks with Macri, dissident Peronists who are not aligned with President Kirchner and representatives from the Radicales, the second strongest force in Congress but no alliances have been announced. However Lavagna has described as an "error" to have a dispersion of candidates in the field since this favors the government. Anyhow January is recess time for the Argentine political establishment and next February there could be a convergence of forces with the purpose of limiting the number of candidates running against the Kirchner political machine.