La Libertad Avanza seeks to become an official party, gain national foothold

As the president’s coalition gathers signatures, analysts consider the move as a way to gain electoral ground ahead of the 2025 midterms

Hundreds of people stood in a line stretching over two blocks outside a bar called Gabbana in Palermo last Sunday. Their goal was to sign up as members of La Libertad Avanza (LLA), which held an event to gather signatures to become an official political party in Buenos Aires City. Presidency Secretary Karina Milei, the president’s sister, was the main speaker at the event. As in other LLA events, the press was barred from attending.

Although it won the elections, LLA doesn’t technically exist anymore. It was created as a temporary coalition consisting of several small right and far right-wing parties, including Milei’s Partido Libertario and Partido Demócrata, in which Vice President Victoria Villarruel is a strong leader. According to Argentine electoral law, such coalitions must be dissolved 60 days after the election.

The prospective party’s leader, Juan Pablo Scalese said in an Urbana Play radio interview on Monday that LLA got around 2,500 signatures of the required 4,000 to become an official party. It would need to be formally recognized in at least five provinces: this is already the case in La Rioja province. Buenos Aires City, an electoral district in its own right, would become the second rung on the ladder to becoming a national party. 

“They are thinking about the 2025 [legislative] elections and starting to design a national party to replace the temporary coalition that won the elections,” said political scientist Ariadna Gallo for the CONICET, Argentina’s top publicly-funded research institute. “The coalition didn’t guarantee loyalty, a party will allow them to be more cohesive and better retain its members.”

Gaining footholds

LLA was born in 2021, just two years before Milei became president and when he was elected national deputy along with Villarruel. The coalition currently has 41 deputies out of 257, and seven senators out of 72. Congressional success hinges on its alliances with other parties, with its main ally being right-wing PRO.

“Karina Milei establishing the party in Buenos Aires City is the start of trying to do the same nationwide,” said Mariano Fraschini, a politics lecturer at the University of Buenos Aires and the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (UBA and FLACSO, by their Spanish acronyms). However, Karina is not the party’s leader: in BA, it was left in the hands of Scalese, a young economist with no political experience.

Other successful coalitions formed specifically for elections such as Frente de Todos or Juntos por el Cambio, had an established party as a nucleus — Partido Justicialista or PRO, respectively. But LLA is made up mostly of smaller, unknown parties. The weight of its success still lies almost solely on Milei.

“They have very little territorial presence,” Gallo explained. “The political resources they have are mostly symbolic, with Milei as a charismatic leader with a great power to attract people.”

None of LLA’s gubernatorial candidates won provincial elections in 2023. Provincial headquarters design senator and deputy ballots: Gallo explained that LLA will need to create those to win local elections independently from Milei’s appeal.

For Fraschini, the choice to start in Buenos Aires City and not in Buenos Aires Province — the electoral heavy hitter in terms of population — is due to LLA’s key relationship with PRO, which he described as “its ideological cousin.”

“Right now, PRO is reorganizing itself with [former president] Mauricio Macri as its leader, but there is an inevitable rupture within the party,” Fraschini said. “PRO is not fully opposition and also isn’t fully part of the government. LLA is taking advantage of that to regroup as a party in the city where both PRO and LLA were born, a key district for the Argentine right.”

Since its foundation in 2005, PRO has been the strongest party in Buenos Aires City, staying in power since 2007 when Macri first became mayor.

Gallo believes LLA might be trying to capture some of PRO’s biggest leaders, such as Security Minister Patricia Bullrich. Bullrich was PRO’s president until three weeks ago and ran against Milei in the general election until it became clear she would not win. The unofficial PRO-LLA alliance began when she threw her support behind Milei, although Macri had been courting LLA voters beforehand. Gallo pointed out that constituting a formal party will allow LLA more formal alliances with other parties.

Karina Milei: sister, secretary, candidate?

Milei refers to his sister as “The Boss” in the masculine Spanish form, El Jefe. Very little is known about her: she has no apparent political background, with a degree in PR. She previously worked as a cake maker and tarot reader before her brother became president.

“Karina is at the top of the list of the few people Milei trusts,” Gallo said. “It’s a way to protect himself against others who could be disloyal and any other external elements he distrusts.” 

The presidency secretary plays a crucial role in the government and in Milei’s personal life. The president has said several times that he thinks of her as the Messiah. “Moses was a great leader, but he wasn’t a good preacher. So, God sent him Aaron to do the preaching,” Milei said in an interview with A24 news channel in November, while tearing up. “Kari is Moses, and I am Aaron. I am just a preacher.”

“Karina Milei is going to be LLA’s most important candidate ahead of the 2025 elections,” Fraschini said. “It seems like Milei’s inner circle consists of only three people: [Chief of Staff] Nicolás Posse, [main political advisor] Santiago Caputo, and Karina Milei. LLA has no political figures, and so it looks like Karina being the main candidate is Milei’s only possible move.”

LLA has not announced that Karina will be running for office. Should that be the case, both analysts agree that the expected payoff of her high-profile role in the party’s launch is unclear. “It will depend on the government’s efficiency to solve the Argentines’ problems,” Fraschini said.


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