“President Macri is not a political leader, he's a businessman, that's why he doesn't like to come out on national television; he should come closer to the people, he should be more political and less technical”. The comment belongs to Jorge Lanata probably the most outstanding investigative reporter in Argentina, and who heads the hate list of ex president Cristina Fernandez.
Lanata was speaking during the ”Night program with Mirtha (Legrand), who is a gracious lady, ex film star, in her late eighties but who has been working in television for over four decades, and with no journalism background has managed to become a reference in Argentine politics and public opinion. Her comments, finger up or finger down, following her famous Having lunch with Mirtha” programs, can be decisive for the future of a politician, film star, doctor, lawyer or whoever was the leading personality or figure in the Buenos Aires media in the previous weeks.
The reason to invite Lanata for her night program was Argentina's last week's run from the Peso to the US dollar which hit a new record (over 23 Pesos from 20 Pesos at the beginning of last week) and forced the central bank to hike the basic interest rate to 40%.
This incident obviously had an impact on the political scenario, on president Macri and his gradualist austerity program, while the divided opposition smelt blood. (CJ) Likewise Macri's chances for a reelection next year don't seem so certain or so readily accessible.
But what set off last week's run to buy dollars, and the Mirtha night chat with Lanata?
Public utility rates, and their soaring increases, which were inherited by the Macri administration and he has been trying to balance gradually to help contain budget deficits. But for ever impatient Argentines, together with foreign investors disenchantment with what they consider Macri's excessive gradualism, and a changing global financial and trade scenario, it all added up to a perfect storm.
So finally the disorganized opposition in Congress, mainly the Peronist movement and its different groupings, believe they have found an issue that could help them reunite in defense of consumers' overwhelmed by the public utility rates increase. President Macri despite having won the 2015 presidential and 2017 midterm elections does not have a self majority in Congress and rests on a fragile coalition of interests, including some dissident Peronists, be it by supporting or abstaining legislation.
I think there should be a political agreement with the other parties on public utility rates. You can't do it by yourself with an only party said Lanata. He added that the pact should include all political parties, the unions and even the Church so that we spend much less but with no victims, since numbers won't square. This is a long term battle, not short term, and if we all agree.
Further on Lanata said that ”the government is his (Macri's) worst enemy. They promised to lower inflation and haven't managed so far, then with the public utility rates, they went forward, they went backwards with the adjustments and finally they decided to split the increases in installments. That is too much back and forth, while for the opposition this is pure Xmas pudding, they are sitting in Congress doing nothing.
Congress apparently now is proposing what it defines as Public utility rates' rationality and Macri is threatening to veto any bill impeding the increases.
”I think the President should veto any bill of that nature, but he must explain to public opinion why he is vetoing. It was not wise to have his finance minister (Nicolas) Dujovne to go on national television. It should have been him, Macri.
Finally on Macri's reelection chances next year, Lanata said Yes I think he will run and could win, by a slight majority, since there is no opposition. However Lanata was also very emphatic against reelection: In Argentina's history not once has reelection worked for the good of the people”.