Buenos Aires Times

argentina CABINET CHIEF

Cabinet Chief Peña takes aim at critics of Macri gov't communication strategy

Marcos Peña described conspiracy theories about his office's operations, including the deployment of trolls on social media to delegitimise opposition voices, as "malefic".

Monday 13 May, 2019
Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña.
Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña. Foto:Pablo Cuarterolo-Perfil

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The Mauricio Macri government is a future-focused and transparent administration working for Argentines who "aspire" toward freedom and stability, said Cabinet Chief Marco Peña in a wide-ranging interview published this weekend in Perfil.

Peña, seen as the ultimate micromanager of President Macri's public image, took particular aim at opponents who criticise - and hyopthesise about - his style of communication.

A number of perceived blunders have been tied to Peña's decision-making, in particular the December 2017 announcement of ambitious inflation target just months before Argentina's economic spiralled into disarray, bringing the currency with it.

"For a long time, political leaders have seen communications as part of a super-structure of power. They believe that behind communications is manipulation. The extreme version of this is (former president) Cristina (Fernández de) Kirchner's view of the media: she believes there is no journalism, there's no communication, just interests", he charged, in an interview with Perfil CEO Jorge Fontevecchia.

Peña described conspiracy theories about his office's operations, including the deployment of trolls on social media to delegitimise opposition voices, as "malefic".

These critics criticise him "from a place of a very deep lack of understanding about how communications work nowadays", he added.

On electoral strategy, Peña turned to his academic knowledge as a political science major to differentiate two groups of voters in Argentina: "the aspirational" types and the "nostalgic" types.

"There are people (in Argentina) who look toward the past and have the desire to return to a past where they were doing better, while others ponder 'what can I do to be better off tomorrow'. This is where we can determine value systems", he explained.

"In our identity, the values of freedom weigh heavily. This includes the possibility of entrepreneurialism, to be connected to the world", he added.

Peña described the expectations about the October general and presidential elections as "very similar" to those about the first round of voting in 2015, when Mauricio Macri and Daniel Scioli scored the highest number of votes to enter a run-off, in which Macri ultimately triumphed with a small percentage of votes over his Kirchnerite contender.

"We can see two very different central identities, value systems and political organisations. Then, there is a slightly smaller third option", he explained, referring to supporters of Macri, supporters of Fernández de Kirchner and voters who express an inclination toward third-option candidates like dissident Peronist Sergio Massa or former Economy minister Roberto Lavagna.

"A majority of Argentines want to keep moving forward. A minority want to return to the Kirchner era. And a large portion have not yet defined their vote", he suggested.

Polls put voting intention for Mauricio Macri as high as 35 percent, the same as for Fernández de Kirchner.

Observers believe both will appeal to undecided voters, with a moderate discourse far unlike the tone of the 2015 election.

-TIMES

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