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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 17-11-2022 01:47

Opposition infighting over mayoral succession raises stakes in City

Jorge Macri is notching up adherents among mayors, seeking political volume with Waldo Wolff, while Soledad Acuña has come out with her intentions to compete. Fernán Quirós waits while the Mayor encourages Emmanuel Ferrario to toss his hat in the ring. Martín Lousteau’s strategy and the internal conflict between Roberto García Moritán and Ricardo López Murphy ⁠— an unfolding tussle.

The mayoral succession in Buenos Aires City reflects Juntos por el Cambio tensions at national level. The decision of City Government Minister Jorge Macri to run and City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta’s inclusion of two of his ministers, Soledad Acuña (Education) and Fernán Quirós (Health) in the list, along with Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Ferrario, adds extra spice to the dispute, to which should be added Radical Senador Martín Lousteau and City legislator Roberto García Moritán, both of whom have already launched.

Macri is accumulating photos of support: Patricia Bullrich, his cousin previously and (just a few days ago) the main PRO mayors of Buenos Aires Province just ahead of his wedding with Belén Ludueña. He has started to explore his future plans for government while he thinks up strategy with his campaign chief Fernando de Andreis (the right-hand man of the ex-president) and deputy Waldo Wolff, one of the most loyal to his figure and the most recognised leader among his inner circle.

The one making a strong move in the past month was Acuña. Early this month she was with Macri in his personal office. Her central idea: to tell him that she had decided to play hard as a mayoral hopeful. The ex-president, who received her with De Andreis, smiled. Even if he explicitly supports his cousin, he opened the door to her to take up her position within the internal dispute so that her figure may grow. In that reserved chat the minister brought along opinion polls showing her to have a high level of recognition. The ex-president was surprised, repeating a sustained concept of his – under no circumstances should PRO hand over the City to the Radicals. He had transmitted something similar to his cousin Jorge a few days ago.

In midweek the Education minister, the most “hawkish” of those backing Rodríguez Larreta (she sees herself as a “Patagonian condor” because she comes from Bariloche) sent a long message to the Whatsapp group of PRO Women: “Hello, my dears! I want to tell you something which has been “cooking” for some time but several of you have asked to hear it from my mouth. I’m working towards being the mayoral candidate and the City’s first woman mayor. I made the decision to be part of a political project 25 years ago when I started working with HRL, who has pushed me towards this decision, which I feel to be a team decision.”

 She went on: “We want, and I personally want, the City to keep being PRO," concluding by listing her objectives, among them that “PRO have the best options,” that “HRL be president” and that “women have the opportunity to occupy positions of power, with power.”

For his part Quirós continues not to send out any clear signals. Embroiled in the conflict with hospital residents, he has decided to take his time while others advance. Born in the City, the Health minister has already received the private and public support of Elisa Carrió while Rodríguez Larreta continues to wait to place him officially in the running. The minister has already confided to his closest friends that he wants to serve the Mayor’s presidential project. Nevertheless, Mauricio Macri does not want him, telling his interlocutors that “he’s not PRO” and that he did not like his handling of the pandemic, precisely what Rodríguez Larreta and his cabinet permanently highlight.

Still lying low but with the firm support of Rodríguez Larreta and María Eugenia Vidal, as well as privileged links with the Radicals, the vice-president of the Legislature, Emmanuel Ferrario, has entered the fray. At 37 he is one of the handsome young men of PRO..

On the Radical side, Lousteau spends hours doing the rounds and chatting with neighbours. One of the more recent was in Barrancas de Belgrano, where he drew some 400 people. He stayed until dark when less than 30 were left. The senator’s maxim is for Rodríguez Larreta to be “impartial” in the tussle. Meanwhile, he has taken advantage of his partner Emiliano Yacobitti carving out an abundant slice of the 2023 Budget for Buenos Aires University (UBA) in return for voting for the government.

Finally, Roberto García Moritán continues his campaign, clashing last week with Ricardo López Murphy, who has hinted that he might make a bid for the City – an important obstacle. But after exchanging words they reconciled in midweek at an event of the NGO of Pampita’s husband, where she participated.

Ezequiel Spillman

Ezequiel Spillman

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

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