Former President and Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) leader Mauricio Macri confirmed he supports JxC’s presidential candidate, Patricia Bullrich, denying ties with Javier Milei after praising him following the primary elections.
“Patricia is my candidate,” Macri said during an interview with TV station TN on Monday night. “Some malicious rumors say I have two candidates, but those who say that don’t know me,” he said, referencing reports that he might be privately backing Milei.
“Patricia has what it takes to make a change, and she won’t back down,” Macri said during the interview, adding that if she eventually becomes president, all of JxC “will help her.” “If not, we will do something else. Right now I am venturing into teaching, working at FIFA, but I am here for whatever she needs.”
Rumors regarding Macri’s support have been partly fueled by his ambiguous speech after the primaries, where he seemed to suggest that Milei and Bullrich were allies rather than rivals. “If we add Javier Milei’s numbers and our own, a huge majority of Argentines [voted for] a deep change like there hasn’t been in decades.”
“Javier Milei is part of the change that is coming for Argentina,” Macri said in an interview with TV station LN+ four days after the primaries.
Milei, who received the most votes in August’s primaries, has seemingly also been courting the former president. Days after the PASO, he said that, if elected, he would offer Macri a custom-made role in his government. According to Milei, Macri could be a “representative of Argentina,” a role above the Foreign Affairs Ministry in charge of negotiating with foreign investors.
When asked about this, Macri insisted on his support for Bullrich. “We need a leader who is not messianic. I don’t think we can live with such intolerance to criticism in Argentina. When I see Milei get so violent… that’s not the way.”
Macri said that when the first results of the August 13 primaries were published, he sent Milei a message congratulating him on being the winner but nothing else. ”That’s it; nothing weird,” he said.
The former president and current head of the FIFA foundation added that, if Milei wins in October 22, he expects his deputies to “back Patricia” in Congress, and made a reference to the far-right libertarian’s “chainsaw plan” for the economy. “You need a toolbox, and not only a chainsaw. Sometimes you will need a scalpel, a hammer, or a pick.”
Macri also asked to “downplay the drama” of the primary results. “It was a tie. JxC will go to a runoff with the libertarians. I am optimistic that we will be the ones to represent change.”
Last week, Bullrich said that the opposition bloc can no longer be held “hostage” to Macri’s actions. Her remarks were viewed as an attempt to show her independence from Macri, her peer within the rightwing PRO party and one of the main members of the JxC coalition.
Macri and Larreta
JxC has been going through intense infighting since before the primaries. Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta competed with Bullrich for JxC’s presidential nomination, albeit with a much more moderate discourse.
Macri said he doesn’t know whether Larreta will be a part of a potential Bullrich administration, adding that they haven’t spoken since the primaries. He suggested that he knew Larreta’s more moderate proposals would not be enough to win the elections.
“What I thought would happen, happened. There are no gray areas, people choose between one idea or another,” he said.