Liberal economist José Luis Espert joins Juntos por el Cambio

The national deputy was welcomed by Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich

Liberal economist and national deputy José Luis Espert officially joined the Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) coalition today, saying they were starting “a common path on the struggle for freedom to recover Argentina.” “You and me. Together,” he tweeted. 

Espert had been in talks about joining JxC since late March, when he told the Herald he hoped the coalition would expand to incorporate liberal parties, and potentially change its name. He proposed the new name include the word “freedom”, a key word for the liberal party’s economic views. 

In a rare sign of unity these days, both coalition JxC presidential hopefuls, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich, welcomed Espert into the coalition, although the latter made a point of signaling again where she draws the line on potential new members. 

“Welcome José Luis Espert! A prestigious economist with a deep drive for change, a defender of democracy and of ideas of freedom (…) Starting December 10, we will begin changing our lives,” Larreta tweeted.

In her statement, Bullrich said she has long been a proponent of Espert’s inclusion in JxC. “I have been campaigning for José Luis Espert to join Juntos por el Cambio since 2021. The liberal ideas he strongly defends are essential for the change we are seeking,” she tweeted, before reiterating her disagreement with the proposed addition of Córdoba peronist governor Juan Schiaretti. 

“This decision does not change our position on Córdoba against the attempt to bring in those who voted alongside kirchnerism.”

Espert’s team was contacted for comment. 

The public overtures between the three politicians signal a momentary truce in JxC, shaken with constant infighting over the upcoming elections and discussions over who should be a part of the coalition. Larreta’s proposal of adding Schiaretti on Sunday led to a bitter exchange over the next few days between the Buenos Aires city mayor, Macri and Bullrich.

Bulrich lambasted the move, saying there were two competing forces within JxC, one vying for change in Argentina, and another one willing to resign expectations of change for the sake of making the coalition grow. Macri stated his disappointment by saying that bringing in Schiaretti puts Juntos por el Cambio “in a crisis.”

Larreta fired back at Macri, saying his opinions wouldn’t change because of what Macri might think. “Since I’m a defender of unity, I never criticize anyone from Juntos por el Cambio. I’m trying to expand [the coalition] because the challenge is not Macri or me, or the infight. The goal is to improve the lives of the Argentine people,” he said in an interview with La Red radio. 

Espert, a liberal economist, founded the party Avanza Libertad, which advocates for economic liberalism and a small State. In 2019, he ran for president and scored 1.47% of the ballot. Two years later, Espert became a Congressman in Buenos Aires Province.

However, the addition of a liberal economist who was previously allied with libertarian Javier Milei is significant in a context in which radical liberal policies are gaining social traction. Milei himself commented on Espert’s move. In an interview with Radio Continental, he said “[Espert] decided to join the caste [of politicians]”, calling JxC a “random bunch only interested in reaching power and not transforming Argentina.”

In another interview with Radio Mitre, Milei also said “it was too late” to form an alliance with Patricia Bullrich because the August 13 PASO electoral process was already too far along, adding that had they gotten together, they would have won easily. 

-with information from Télam


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