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ECONOMY | 05-10-2023 19:22

Argentine presidential candidates Milei, Bullrich woo CEOs at duelling events

Patricia Bullrich and Javier Milei angle for the attention of corporate executives and labour union leaders in Mar del Plata.

Argentina’s two leading presidential candidates angled for the attention of corporate executives and labour union leaders Thursday, holding overlapping events as they fight for votes in an election seen by many as an open race.  

Javier Milei, the frontrunner, pulled a campaign stunt by trying to lure CEOs and other attendees at Argentina’s biggest annual business conference to a lunch his campaign organised at a restaurant two miles away from the hotel where his rival Patricia Bullrich was scheduled to speak. He also bailed on the conference, where he was previously a confirmed speaker, despite travelling all the way to beach-side city of Mar del Plata, a four-hour drive from Buenos Aires.    

The libertarian economist is battling for many of the same voters as Bullrich heading into to the October 22 election. Milei has developed an air of invincibility since he shocked the nation by winning a key primary as an outsider, challenging Bullrich to retool a campaign that was once expected to win with ease as the main establishment opposition.  

In the August 13 primary election, Milei won with 29.9 percent of votes while Bullrich’s coalition tallied 28 percent of ballots and the incumbent party led by Economy Minister Sergio Massa took home 27.3 percent. 

Milei dined around 1pm with roughly a hundred business leaders, union officials, campaign staff and journalists at a restaurant called “Furia,” or fury. Bullrich spoke in front of a full conference room at the Sheraton Hotel at the same time. 

“It’s an absolute coincidence,” Milei told TV station C5N outside the restaurant, denying his team intended to overshadow Bullrich’s event. He said they planned the lunch months ago.

Bullrich was dismissive when asked at a press conference about her rival’s “counter summit.”

She accused Milei of “wanting to increase the price of a lunch that is done every year,” adding that she still “had a full room” for her remarks. “So, stay calm,” she said

Milei, Bullrich and Massa will meet Sunday for their second televised election debate.

by Ignacio Olivera Doll & Manuela Tobias, Bloomberg

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