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ARGENTINA | 22-10-2022 06:26

Rain dampens reception for Macri’s new book on streets of Buenos Aires

Former president’s latest tome, Para Que, hits shelves across the country – is it the precursor to a presidential candidacy?

The Tuesday morning rain may have dampened release-day sales of Mauricio Macri’s second book, Para Qué, but the new tome is helping to ramp up anticipation ahead of the 2023 presidential elections. 

Bookstore branches Cúspide and El Ateneo Grand Splendid on Avenida Santa Fe in Recoleta reported no sales of the book in the first couple of hours of trading when the Times enquired this week – either a reflection of the rainy weather or the political climate. Stocks were certainly plentiful, however, with towers of the book were prominently displayed inside and outside bookstores across the capital.

“Many people stopped by to ask about the book,” bookseller David Galeano of Cúspide Books said on the release day. “I estimate that today we will sell between 8 to 10 copies, and 50 to 60 in the first week.”

A return visit two days after release day didn’t return astounding results either: the branch sold three copies on release day and eight copies in total since the release. 

“I did not read his first book, and I am not going to read this one,” Galeano, 41, told the Times. “His first book sold a lot better.”

Macri’s last release, Primer Tiempo, was the number one best-selling book in Argentina last year, somewhat poetically taking the podium from Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s own hit memoir Sinceramente in 2020. According to Galeano’s colleague, Fernando Cazenave, a 59-year-old from Buenos Aires Province, it sold 8,931 copies at Cúspide and still did not come close to surpassing Kirchner’s sales.

Sinceramente was madness in the rural areas, it was totally different,” Cazenave said. “People were lining up out front to buy the book; you can not expect the sale of a political book of this magnitude. It is a rare case.”

While it is too early to report official sales numbers of the new book, at the time of writing the book stood at number two in the print books online chart put together by online marketplace Mercado Libre. 

A representative for Cúspide said that the company had received 2,000 copies and had sold over 350 by Thursday. “We have good sales expectations but the projection would be that it will be less than in the case of Primer tiempo,” said the spokesperson.  “The book is already in a second print run and this is a good general sign.”

Carlos Brodersen, a doctor from Buenos Aires City, was one of those reading the synopsis of Para Qué and flipping through the book curiously at the famous El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore on release day.

“Macri was our president, and I wanted to see what it said,” he told the Times. “I did not read his first book, that is why it caught my attention.”

In the book, which was co-written by Pablo Avelluto, the former president tells an autobiographical story of his life discussing change, lessons from his political career, and future aspirations for Argentina.

“The project did not stop growing until it became what it is: a book about the author's training and learning, in extraordinary contexts,” Avelluto, a former national culture minister under Macri, said in an op-ed about the book. “Macri began to broaden the horizon of the book in multiple directions.”

For many, the release of Para Qué – which prominently displays the subtitle “Lessons on leadership and power to win the second half” on the cover – hints at a potential second presidential campaign for the Juntos por el Cambio leader. Although Macri has not announced a campaign yet, the promotion would feed into the 2023 presidential elections. 

Both Brodersen and Cazenave think it is likely that Macri will run again.

“I suppose he is running a campaign, and this must be a part of his presidential campaign,” the doctor said. “Surely he will run again, but Argentina needs to update its leaders.”

Deputy director of the Wilson Center's Latin American Program, Benjamin Gedan, concurs and adds that Macri has not lost his taste for politics, even though his first term ended poorly. 

“Recent improvements in his approval ratings are no doubt encouraging him to consider running for president next year,” Gedan said. “Whoever wins the opposition primary will have to articulate the best approach to addressing Argentina’s daunting challenges, from high inflation and low reserves to slow growth and uncompetitive industries.”

Incumbent president Alberto Fernández will likely also be up for re-election for a second term, though polling at present is far from favourable for the Peronist leader.

“Macri’s take-it-slow approach to spending cuts and structural reform did not succeed,” explained Gedan. “But it is not clear that Argentina’s next president will have the public or congressional support for a more ambitious strategy.”

The ex-president will present his new book at an event next Monday, October 24, which will be held at la Sociedad Rural de Palermo. More than 1,000 invitees will be in attendance, including some important guests.

“I will not support Macri, he had his moment,” said Brodersen. “When politicians return to run for a second time, it is never positive. Political impotence can not be cured.”

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Xander Christou

Xander Christou

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