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ARGENTINA | 23-02-2023 14:51

Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta launches Argentina presidential run

With less than six months to mandatory primary elections, the fight for the candidacies in Argentina’s two main coalitions is heating up.

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said Thursday he will seek the presidency of Argentina, kicking off his campaign as a top contender amid a crowded field of candidates ahead of the election in October.

“I want to be president so that together we end with the hate and we transform our country forever,” Rodríguez Larreta said in a campaign video posted on social media, speaking from an isolated lighthouse in Patagonia.

A key opposition leader who has governed the country’s capital for two terms, Rodríguez Larreta is vying for the presidency with a centrist, business-friendly platform as the nation suffers through inflation near 100 percent, poverty affecting close to 40 percent of the population and no access to international debt markets after a sovereign default.

With less than six months to mandatory primary elections, the fight for the candidacies in Argentina’s two main coalitions is heating up. The ruling Peronist alliance is in the middle of intense internal struggles, with President Alberto Fernández hinting he would seek a second term despite significant push back from groups supporting his powerful vice-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

A graduate of Harvard Business School, Rodríguez Larreta, 57, has built a robust campaign staff and largely maintained positive approval ratings of around 50 percent after governing through the pandemic. But for him to win the candidacy of the centre-right coalition, he would need first to compete with other top opposition rivals, potentially including former security minister Patricia Bullrich and deputy María Eugenia Vidal.

Former president Mauricio Macri, a longtime ally of all three candidates whose support is seen as crucial to obtain the nomination, met with each of them in recent weeks but hasn’t yet explicitly endorsed anyone.

In an interview with Bloomberg News in October, Rodríguez Larreta said Argentina’s next government should aim to have a free-floating exchange rate and dismantle the cobweb of currency controls established by the current administration to keep the official rate artificially overvalued.

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by Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg

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