Just minutes after last Sunday’s election results were in, the Herald’s sister title Ámbito stated that people should pay attention to how former President Mauricio Macri would time the order to change direction and endorse Javier Milei, filling up his potential ministries with his own people while he was at it. It took him 24 hours.
But the marriage of convenience not only caused the implosion of Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change) and a split in PRO. It also infuriated people and revealed that nobody knows how to lose with dignity. In this regard, Patricia Bullrich served as a probe. Worse still, the fault lies with the winners, and therefore their voters, or so they shamelessly suggest.
If politicians were to speak clearly, they should be honest about their main contradiction: it’s OK if I do it, but wrong if anyone else does it. It’s as simple as it is hard to eradicate, because of immaturity and the lazy belief that society won’t demand consistency from them.
Those left on the losing side included analysts, pollsters, journalists, JxC and Milei himself — for failing to enter the run-off as the frontrunner, like everyone expected. Their reaction? To get angry with the new scenario. Angry with their critics. Angry with what was already wrong (but that they didn’t point out because they could use it). They got angry with those who remained neutral, and tied themselves in linguistic knots to explain their U-turn.
“He didn’t ask me for anything,” said Milei of the negotiations with Macri, Bullrich and hardline PRO converts, who have a new common feature: they are politically homeless. With nothing to lose, they’re going all in. “Unconditional” was the word Milei used to describe their support, which feels like surrender, given how it looks, and the fact they’re getting nothing in return. Humiliation.
What does Bullrich offer Milei?
The people in their ecosystem reacted violently and implemented the new — old — strategy of La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances), which mutated to the Kirchnerism versus anti-Kirchnerism narrative, with the aim to polarize. They adopted the core notion that drove Bullrich’s complicated campaign: terminating a political opponent that Sunday’s elections vindicated. It’s probably the first time anyone who made it to the run-off has adopted the loser’s motto. We’re not sure whether freedom is advancing, but it’s certainly getting together for “change.”
What does Bullrich offer Milei? For the moment, her entry forced the exit of food service union leader Luis Barrionuevo, who stormed out taking his election monitors with him, and saying that “Milei chose the caste over young people.” He wasn’t joking.
Other PRO leaders started to follow the Macri-Bullrich strategy, joining them in dribs and drabs. One is former senator Federico Pinedo, forced to reject his own grandfather, who played a role in the creation of the Central Bank. Pinedo senior is targeted by Milei when he insists that the institution was designed to swindle people, and that therefore he plans to bring it down. Just in case, Pinedo said they will vote against dollarization.
The confusion even stirred PRO academics to suggest that Milei was undoubtedly the best option in the runoff, with the exotic argument that he would be unlikely to push unconstitutional legislation because he will have a minority in Congress. They got mad at Supreme Court Chief Justice Horacio Rosatti — who called for “national unity” in the next administration in his speech at the Lomas de Zamora University — because he echoed Sergio Massa’s similar call.
It sparked reactions not by the protagonists but by the supporting cast, who are inheriting the shiny new agreement between the two forces. They said it was opportunistic and improper. Rosatti had already given a similar speech at AmCham, at IDEA surrounded by business leaders, and on every stand he was called on to discuss constitutional issues. It’s in the preamble of the Constitution.
LLA’s people started the paranoia with a post by an anonymous user saying that no matter what the arrangement was, the election was already lost because Peronism controlled voting data processing. Hardline Macri supporters raised alarms about monitoring the election. The libertarians went on alert and started sparking the fear of fraud. Again. No-one noticed the fact that if the data processing were to have been manipulated, it would only affect the telegrams used for the temporary count. The election’s final count is defined by other means.
Milei claimed that 5,000 reports of irregularities were filed. The first one they brought to the electoral courts in San Juan resulted in the ballot boxes being opened, only for the investigators to discover that the Peronist Justicialist Party actually had more votes than first thought. This shifted the distribution of senators, not only giving Peronism one more, but also putting them very close to recovering the ability to reach quorum by themselves.
PRO hardliners have now begun the stage of fighting those who have declared themselves “neutral” — who were their coalition partners until two minutes ago. Using phrases from San Martín, Winston Churchill and even made-up Dante quotes, they tried to force the position of those who tried to step away, sparking a full-on internal war.
One of the “mottos” spread among Macri-aligned Whatsapp groups said “Churchill saved England by partnering with Stalin. The goal was to beat Nazism. He changed history. Afterwards they didn’t need to remain partners anymore.” Apart from the exaggerated comparison, it’s not really clear, in this case, who would be Churchill and who would be Stalin. On October 1, Bullrich said: “Kirchnerism left us with scorched earth. Milei is alone, and so he is partnering with the worst in politics.”