The large majority of the Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition probably breathed a big sigh of relief yesterday when National Deputy Elisa “Lilita” Carrió announced her plan to run in next year’s midterm elections. The Civic Coalition leader — which along President Mauricio Macri’s PRO party and the Radical Civil Union (UCR) makes up the Cambiemos party block — said she was considering the idea of retiring from politics but decided to go to “battle in the ballot boxes” when Donald Trump won the United States elections.
“I was deciding to leave politics, I was very tired. Didn’t know what I was going to do, It’s not very clear for me what I am going to do either. What I know is that until the day I die I will battle for the Republic and humanism, and if it’s in the ballot boxes — it’s in the ballot boxes. With votes, without votes. I was convinced of that after Trump’s victory.”
Carrió, faithful to her style, didn’t waste time on political correctness at the time of showing her concern about the way President-elect Trump will lead the United States. Namely, she was very critical of the decision to appoint Steve Bannon — former CEO of Breitbart news outlet, which Bannon himself labeled as the “platform for the Alt-right” — as Chief Strategist in his cabinet, a post he said will be as relevant as the Chief of Staff, which will be filled by RNC Chair Reince Priebus.
Carrió said Bannon’s appointment “reminds” her of “World War Two Germany” because “he believes in white supremacy.” “Argentina is coming out of its situation with a lot of pain because a lot was stolen from us, but it’s coming out in an international context that is hard enough, where xenophobia is gaining territory in places such as the United States and Europe,” she added.
Regardless of the reason keeping her active, Cambiemos can consider this a victory. Carrió is currently a popular figure — she wasn’t always — who can increase the coalition’s chances of winning in either the City or the Province of Buenos Aires.
Moreover, Carrió’s confirmation evens the competition, as other parties are allegedly planning on taking out their electoral big guns too. Several polls have already speculated on a run for the Buenos Aires Province breaking down into being between Carrió, Sergio Massa and Margarita Stolbizer for the Renewal Front (FR) and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Daniel Scioli for the Victory Front (FpV). Basically all of the names you heard in last year’s presidential elections.
Politicians know that the congressional elections will define the country’s political landscape for years to come, not only until the next president takes office. The Macri administration really needs a win to cement its victory in last year’s elections — namely to improve their numbers in Congress and increase their chances of passing the legislation it deemed as being key to their agenda.
The different opposition parties, on their end, need to show themselves as viable alternatives that can defeat the party in office come 2019. The elections will serve Massa as a way to reassure himself, and his party, that a good part of the 20 points he got in the 2015 elections is still there.
As for the Justicialist Party (PJ), it will be time to find out if it has been able to do what Peronism does best: reinvent itself and present the party as an alternative that stays faithful to late President Juan Domingo Perón’s guidelines without being an extreme opposition to the Macri administration.
And for the Victory Front, to realize if the “Resisting with passion” (Resistiendo con aguante) doctrine installed by Kirchnerite youth administration, La Cámpora, really has managed to keep people inspired by the “National and Popular” project. And at the same time, should Fernández de Kirchner run in the Buenos Aires Province, it could be seen as a testing of the water for an eventual run for a return to the Casa Rosada in two years time.
It will be a tough battle but Carrió, being Carrió, is planning on tackling it head on with the arguments she has used ever since she entered politics: respect for the Republican values (the Republic, not the American party), the Constitution and cleaning the state of corruption. And of ineptitude.
“I’m going to make sure Cambiemos abides by and respects the Constitution,” said Carrió, who went on to request the government “solve basic ineptitude issues.”
“The errors we have had — have happen because of inept people,” she concluded.