Early this week, Engineer Mauricio Macri, from the center right party PRO (Compromiso para el Cambio), finally decided to run for Governor of the City of Buenos Aires. For the past several months Mr. Macri has been eluding the decision of whether to run for President or for the capital.
Always waiting to see the new polls results Macri would not, until this Monday, define what was he running for. Even though his chances were always better in the city of Buenos Aires, Macri wanted to become the main opposition figure against the solid image of President Néstor Kirchner.
During the last elections for Governor in Buenos Aires, Macri ended first (with 37.55%) but loosing in the second run to Anibal Ibarra for a seven points.
His reputation as a successful businessman and administrator of the soccer team Boca Juniors for the past 11 years gave him popularity across the country, especially with the underprivileged segments of Argentinian society. This, added to the existence of a severely fragmented opposition, made PRO authorities believe that Macri could unify it behind him. However, personal ambitions stood on the way. The center and center right had too many candidates, all sharing the same votes: Jorge Sobisch (governor of Neuquén Province), Carlos Menem (twice president), Ricardo Lopez Murphy (now allied with Macri) and Roberto Lavagna (previous Economy Minister).
Finally, after many opinion polls, Macri decided for the sure thing. His chances of being the next Governor of the wealthy City of Buenos Aires are very high.
However, Macri is not the only character in this comedy. Almost every single well known politician considering to be a candidate for the multiple upcoming elections (provincials and national) has played his or her indecisive role.
The president himself is zigzagging this road, not determining if it is him or his wife, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (currently a Senator) who will be running for president. Playing with his nickname, “penguin”(because he comes from Patagonia) Kirchner says that the candidate could be a “male penguin or a female penguin” (see photo).
Dolls representing Kirchner and his wife.
Former Minister of Economy, Roberto Lavagna (for many the father of the recent economical recovery) remained indecisive for months, before finally announcing his intentions of becoming the next president. However, it is not clear yet with what party he will running. He has ties with many, including Macri`s PRO and the once strong UCR (Unión Cívica Radical) trying to go back to the political stage with Lavagna.
One of the few that announced early her commitment to the presidential race was Elisa Carrió, leader of the center left ARI (Alternativa por una República de Iguales). Carrió declared her presidential intentions on May 2006. She referred to the other hesitant candidates as “swingers, who did not know whether they wanted to be presidents or governors, who do not know what to do with their lives.”
Surprisingly, this past week Carrió noted that she might back down as a presidential candidate and, instead, would run for Governor of the City of Buenos Aires “not to abandon the city to Macri and the other Peronists candidates.” The once firmed candidate joined this swinging comedy that she harshly criticized for so long.
The race without Macri
Now that Macri is no longer fighting for the national seat, the new polls showed that it greatly benefited Kirchner.
With Mauricio Macri on running the polls showed the following results
Without Macri, his votes were shared among the main contenders, Kirchner getting 17% of Macri`s votes, Lavagna 14% and Carrió 13%. The rest remained indecisive.
With or without Macri, Kirchner is still, by far, the main competitor. However, in Argentinian politics nothing is set in stone. If it is set at all. At least, is full of surprises.