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ARGENTINA | 20-11-2023 16:05

Mauricio Macri victorious after backing Milei and eyes PRO officials in Cabinet

Former president Mauricio Macri has been tacitly supporting Javier Milei since the libertarian lawmaker entered politics. With the La Libertad Avanza leader's triump at the ballot box, he has solidified a link that may stretch into Argentina's next government.

“How are you? It’s Mauricio Macri, just wanted to congratulate you all. The election is going very well, so is coordination, teamwork is working. Honestly, congratulations. The only thing I ask is that, until the protocol has been closed, the photos have been taken and sent by WhatsApp, everyone should stay until the polls close.”

An audio message sent by Argentina's former president circulated across WhatsApp on election day to all the scrutineers provided by Macri's PRO party. It was before 4pm on Sunday when the voice note was sent and it was clear how deep Macri was into helping out Javier Milei's quest to become president.

The previous evening, Macri had anticipated it on a private Zoom call with PRO party leaders Patricia Bullrich and Cristian Ritondo and all the lead scrutineers deployed by PRO: “It will be a historic day, we’re getting Kirchnerism out."

Macri openly played a full role, defending Milei in the media, before businesspeople and leaders, and naturally on social networks.

His high level of commitment  to the president-elect's bid for power did not come into play after Bullrich’s defeat in the general election. It did not start after the PASO primaries. Yet the link between Macri and Milei dates all the way back to 2021 when they started to dialogue and forged a relationship. Zoom and telephone calls, then some meetings, often attended by Karina Milei, began to strengthen it.

PRO deputy María Eugenia Vidal recalls that, a week away from the 2021 parliamentary election, Macri publicly praised Milei’s liberal proposals on two TV channels.

However, the ex-president’s full role has other aspects to it. Firstly, the ideological aspect: the progressive move to the right of the former head of state since he left power, the invocation of shock policies which, according to him, he was unable to apply during his government. Secondly: Macri correctly observed that youth and a portion of the electorate was searching for an outsider leader to express themselves, especially their rage and anguish. Thirdly, the possibility that PRO, and even Juntos por el Cambio, could expand their force to accommodate the liberals, an idea which prompted strong pushback from the Radicals, Coalición Cívica and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.

Within that context, it is to be expected that there will be open talk about those Macrista political leaders and experts who may join Milei's government. Among other places, there is already talk of inclusion in the economic area, Labour Ministry, the AFIP Tax Office and two key places: the Justice Ministry and the AFI Federal Intelligence Agency, one of Macri’s obsessions. Federico Pinedo is a potential name for the Defence Ministry and Javier Iguacel to the YPF state oil company (which will be privatised).

There are two additional areas in focus. One is the Security Ministry, Bullrich has ruled out a return for her to the portfolio. Luis Petri, the former vice-presidential candidate, has already started to make a name for himself and is a contender. The other rumour is stronger, and until yesterday, it was uncertain: the Cabinet chief post may go to Bullrich herself. It is the only position that could tempt her.

Among his advisors, with the result already known, Macri sent a phrase that outlined his focus: “Now Milei needs to be helped with the ticking time bomb he’s left with."

On the evening of the libertarian’s triumph, Macri and Milei met, accompanied by Bullrich. Arriving after 10.30pm to the 21st floor of the Hotel Libertador, the PRO duo waited about 45 minutes to congratulate the president-elect in person.

A new stage has started for the former president – and for Argentina's next head of state.

Ezequiel Spillman

Ezequiel Spillman

Editor de Política de Diario Perfil. Mail: [email protected]

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