According to uncorroborated rumors circulating in Buenos Aires Thursday, Congressman Javier Milei, the presidential candidate from La Libertad Avanza (LLA) was suffering from some sort of mental breakdown, which raised the possibility that he might not be fit for the mandatory debates with the other four contenders who made it through the Aug. 13 Mandatory, Open, and Simultaneous Primary (PASO) elections.
Milei has canceled an interview with the CNN network among other engagements and has not been seen in public in the last few days, thus fueling speculations as to the reasons for such a behavior. The economist has also been said to be harboring second thoughts about his candidacy after a gathering at the US Embassy where support from Washington was reportedly not as strong as he had imagined.
Since 2015, debates have been held in order for the candidates to convey their proposals to voters because the citizenry has the right to an informed vote and have the right to know how things are going to be, according to the National Electoral Court of Appeals (CNE).
As per Law 27337, all candidates attaining over 1.5% of the votes in the PASO elections must participate in the two presidential debates. Failure to appear would result in the loss of all audiovisual advertising spaces granted free of charge by the National Electoral Direction (DINE). In addition, the physical space that would have been assigned to the missing candidate will remain empty together with the rest of the participants, in order to denote their absence, the law mandates.
This year, the debates among Javier Milei (La Libertad Avanza), Patricia Bullrich (Juntos por el Cambio), Sergio Massa (Unión por la Patria), Juan Schiaretti (Hacemos por Nuestro País) and Myriam Bregman (Frente de Izquierda) are scheduled for Oct. 1 at the National University of Santiago del Estero and Oct. 8 at the Law School of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). In the event of a runoff, a third debate would be held on Nov. 12, also at the UBA to speed up organizational matters, the CNE ruled.
Both debates will be broadcast live by state-run media Radio y Televisión Argentina Sociedad del Estado. The video and audio signals will be free of charge to any private broadcasters wishing to air the event.
Among the topics to be debated, leaving aside the usual ones such as Security, Economy, and Foreign Affairs, among others, this year candidates will also answer questions from ordinary citizens chosen by lottery at the time of the debate.
Unlike in previous years, candidates this time around are expected to interact more with each other, with questions and cross-examinations.