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Argentina: BA Mayor would be Cabinet Chief under Bullrich

Sunday, October 15th 2023 - 13:58 UTC
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Bullrich seeks to depict JxC as a united movement but her potential Economy Minister has also been linked to a sex scandal Bullrich seeks to depict JxC as a united movement but her potential Economy Minister has also been linked to a sex scandal

In a move to convey a message of unity within Together for Change (Juntos por el Cambio - JxC), presidential hopeful Patricia Bullrich Saturday announced that should she be elected, Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, whom she defeated in the primaries, would become her Cabinet Chief.

“In order to achieve this change with a quick and efficient execution, I have called Horacio to join me as Chief of Cabinet of Ministers,” Bullrich said during a press conference in Buenos Aires eight days before the general elections.

Bullrich highlighted Larreta's “management capacity” and the “transformations” he achieved in the city. “I thank you for having accepted this place,” she added.

“This is much more than an electoral announcement, it is to demonstrate to society that JxC is ready to grab the country from the bottom of the well. And to get it out of there we are summoning those who have more experience,” Bullrich maintained.

Larreta promised to give his best to fight “two populisms [Javier Milei's Liberal alliance and Economy Minister Sergio Massa's Unión por la Patria of Kirchnerite extraction] that have already shown how destructive they are and it is clear that the option for real change is Together for Change.”

Although Bullrich maneuvered to hold on to JxC's 28% of votes -hers and Larreta's combined- at the Aug. 13 Open, Mandatory, and Simultaneous Primary (PASO) elections, analysts doubt the initiative will pay off since many people who voted for the former Security Minister wanted her to detach from the core of former President Mauricio Macri's administration, given its devastating first-round loss to Alberto Fernández in 2019. Her movements leading in the opposite direction, Bullrich may now bring on the support of all those who voted for the Mayor of Buenos Aires but it will not be costless. Will the balance justify the move? Or did it give additional votes to frontrunner Milei, who may now even avoid a runoff?

To skip a second round of voting, a presidential candidate needs at least 45% of the valid votes, or at least 40% with a 10-percentage-point lead over the second-placed contender.

In the current scenario, Bullrich is said to be vying for the second slot at the runoff, for which she would need to defeat Massa, whose political force has been heavily dented by the recent “Yachtgate” scandal involving Buenos Aires province Cabinet Chief Martín Insaurralde.

But Bullrich, nicknamed “Pato” kept playing the pato criollo lately. A pato criollo is a wild duck who makes one mistake with each step and some names seem to be loaded: She also announced that should she be elected, Carlos Melconián would be Economy Minister. Then some audios with the voice of the former Banco de la Nación Argentina (BNA) president offering jobs within the government to women he dated went viral.

Melconián served as BNA president between Dec. 23, 2015, and Jan. 18, 2017. He was proposed for the job by then-President Macri.

Although the new scandal did not wipe off the effects of the one involving Insaurralde, it proved before the public opinion that corruption reigns supreme within JxC and Unión por la Patria (UP) alike. In the end, Milei seems to have increased his lead.

“Great gesture of Patricia with Horacio strengthening the team that has to take charge of the disastrous crisis suffered by Argentina,” wrote Macri on X (formerly Twitter). And most hard-line Macrist leaders such as former Buenos Aires Governor María Eugenia Vidal celebrated Bullrich's move. It thus became hard to explain how the criteria of those who steered the boat onto the cliff in 2019 could produce any significant progress this time around.

According to La Nación, Bullrich is that many of those who supported Milei in the primaries will move to the JxC camp, in addition to an increase in turnout, which would result in her candidacy advancing to the runoff. She is also banking on Milei's alliance suffering a tear and wear from the announced partnership with trade unionist Luis Barrionuevo.

Bullrich and Melconián were interviewed over dinner on TV Saturday by 96-year-old host Mirtha Legrand. During the show, they discussed the illegal nature of the recordings involving the economist and Bullrich stressed it was “a dirty campaign”.

Melconián argued that “the only thing” that those behind the leak want to do “is to hurt.”

Then Legrand asked Melconián if those recordings were fake or real. “I am 66 years old and the two times I participated in some way in politics, I was shaken,” Melconián replied. “Nothing ever happened to me until [Mrs Bullrich] said I was going to be Economy Minister,” he went on before explaining how these tactics are commonplace in world politics when “there is nothing else” to be said against a candidate.

“But what is the origin, where does it come from?” Legrand insisted.

”There it is, the third point, the source. When they tell me this I start thinking about the source, a gentleman not even from an open channel, that I start looking at, I ask and (he is) a first-level defector, a criminal. A man who is an extortionist, a person who apparently is dedicated to these tasks, just like the person who sponsors him, apparently from the [intelligence] services. He does not even denounce this sham thing,“ Melconíán underlined.

Asked if it was his voice, Melconián hinted it could have been an impersonator. ”Even if it were me, what does this say? Nothing,“ he stressed.

”Dirty campaigns in Argentina took a terrible level. I listened several times to the audio and it is absolutely incoherent that it has nothing that you can say that there is a crime. I listened to it several times because my prestige, Carlos' and our government's prestige is at stake. For me this is done with the purpose that we are discussing this today,“ Bullrich also said.

Melconian also argued that ”the biggest dilemma“ of the people who put the illegal recordings in circulation is ”that it is discussed, nothing else“. Bullrich interrupted him: ”Carlos, leave it there and that's it.“

”It is a dirty campaign. They are things edited by a defector, that have no coherence between them. It is an illegal recording,“ she defined. But Legrand said Melconián should ”defend himself with more strength.“

”Mirtha, one day of Insaurralde's yacht is seven years of a minimum retirement. Do you realize the level of perversion?” Bullrich noted.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

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