María Eugenia Vidal has officially declared her candidacy for deputy in Buenos Aires City, saying she wants to "defend Argentines from the abuses of power."
Speaking at an event in Palermo last weekend, the Buenos Aires Province governor confirmed she would run for Congress in the capital, making official her crossover from the district she governed between 2015 and 2019.
In an interview conducted last Saturday, Vidal said that she felt herself to be a candidate backed by the entire coalition while claiming that her decision to run in the City did not distance her from the province she had governed in any way and hitting out at the national government for its “improvisation.”
Why did you decide to run in the City?
I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m a candidate because I think that’s the place to be in Argentina at this time, perhaps one of the worst since 2001 due to the pandemic, the economic difficulties and so many Argentines losing hope, I feel. Politics has the responsibility to restore the idea of a future to Argentines and I’m trying to do my bit.
You said that you were not going to “abandon the people of Buenos Aires Province” but you’re a candidate in the City, so did you abandon them then?
Not running in BA Province this time does not mean that I’m abandoning its people, I do not feel it that way. My commitment to and my respect and love for them has not changed and will not change. A candidacy or an election cannot change that. I do feel that it is important not to run now so that others can grow. If we’re always the same people filling the same slots, neither the City nor BA Province nor the country will grow. That’s how Mauricio [Macri] understood it in 2013 [when PRO did not present its own list] and he promoted me in BA Province [in 2015], a decision widely misunderstood, because he believed in new leadership.
Was it annoyance which made you leave BA Province after having been governor?
I do not feel that I have left, I’m just a candidate in a different district. My parents still live there [in Haedo], I’m in contact with many people of Buenos Aires Province, with the neighbourhoods of Greater Buenos Aires, as I have been throughout the pandemic, via Zoom or telephone when I could not be on the spot. When a co-operative in [the] Villa Itatí [shantytown] caught fire recently, I was there. I do not have to be a candidate to be there, I’m always going to be in BA Province, I’ll never leave. And I feel exactly the same way about the City – my life story and many others is no different on one side or the other of the Avenida General Paz. The pandemic showed that there are not two provinces – I feel myself a part of both.
Did Rodríguez Larreta offer you to be a candidate in the City?
Horacio made me the offer but the whole coalition backed me. That was very important for me – not just being the PRO candidate but for all Juntos por el Cambio. People were telling me in the street that we should not fight, that there must be unity. Today I feel myself to be THE candidate, backed by the entire coalition.
When Patricia Bullrich backed down, she argued that she would have beaten you in a primary…
I always worked for unity and Patricia understood it the same way. I value and will always value her gesture towards unity and I told her that. Grandeur is not common in politics, that’s why I highlight it.
Did you discuss with Macri your decision to run in the City?
I spoke several times with him over the last 18 months within a relationship which stretches back over 15 years. He knew my decision before anybody else, I listened to his stance [that I should run in BA Province], and I feel supported by Mauricio, our bond goes beyond politics.
Should PRO at least unify in BA Province?
Working for unity is always good. But even if there is not a single list, unity is not in discussion. In any event there will be more than one candidate. The PASO primaries do not have to be destructive or throw unity into crisis. At times they can add. My candidates nationwide will be those of PRO but Facundo [Manes] involving himself in politics seems fine to me.
Do you believes we are seven deputies away from becoming Venezuela?
We’re 10 deputies away and Juntos por el Cambio has 10 seats at stake in the City, which was another reason for me to run there. Although there’s a lot of support for Horacio’s administration, it’s where our deputies are at greatest risk, which also convinced me to come here. The most important thing is to battle against Frente de Todos constructing a majority.
How would you characterise the national government?
It’s a government which improvises but not only fails to resolve the problems which it pledged to resolve in 2019 but which has created new problems – education, whether children can go to school or not, whether you can go in and out of the country, all improvisation. And there are problems of sensitivity – if the homeland is other people, you don’t vaccinate your militants first when elderly people are at risk. They showed themselves for who they are and always were – you see that when they say they came to bring Argentines together and then they accuse the opposition of being Nazis and wanting a shitty country. That “we returned better” was never true.
Would you take on [Ricardo] López Murphy in the PASO primaries?
He’s a person I respect and broadening Juntos por el Cambio and being able to show our diversity seems fine to me. What is at stake in Argentina is far more important. It seems great to me if Ricardo wants to join in, Juntos por el Cambio will welcome him.