The second round scenario between the Peronist Sergio Massa and the far-right Javier Milei, determined by the first presidential round last Sunday, triggered a dizzying reorganization of the Argentine political map.
Together for Change, the conservative coalition that came in third place with 23.8% of the votes, is resolving the dilemma between Massa and Milei in a chaotic manner, with leaders speaking out individually, in the absence of a strategy and a common leadership.
Former presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich, of the PRO party, and her running mate, Luis Petri, of the traditional Radical Civic Union (UCR), announced this afternoon at a press conference that they will vote for Milei on November 19. Both clarified that they were not speaking on behalf of their respective parties, although they said they represented the 6.2 million citizens who voted for them.
Bullrich and Petri’s endorsement of their rival did not cause surprise, although the hasty way in which they did it did. Both represent the hawkish wing of Together for Change, with many points in common with the extremist Milei. Bullrich appealed to a phrase by José de San Martín, the main hero of independence, to justify his position: “When the country is in danger, everything is allowed, except not defending it.”
Bullrich did not give himself up in exchange for anything. He announced that he will not accept the sale of human organs, nor the free sale of weapons nor the freedom of men to abandon their children.
“The urgency of the moment challenges us not to be neutral in the face of the danger of the continuity of Kirchnerism through Sergio Massa,” added the former Minister of Security, with a grim face. The leader resumed all kinds of accusations against Kirchnerism in the code of “mafia”, rhetoric that she had barely concealed in the last days of the campaign for the first round.
The former presidential candidate, a left-wing Peronist, when she entered political activism five decades ago, said she had left behind offenses from her former rival that pointed her out as the author of “terrorist” attacks.
“Last night we had a talk (with Milei) regarding what his statements had been and in the private sphere we forgave each other. “We were able to forgive each other,” revealed the president of the PRO party, founded by Mauricio Macri. Because Milei had called her a “murderous bully,” a “bomb-throwing terrorist” and the author of attacks “in kindergartens,” Bullrich filed a criminal complaint for slander and insults, which she will now proceed to file, according to her.
Bullrich did not give himself up in exchange for anything. In the accession document, he announced that he will not accept the sale of human organs, nor the free sale of weapons nor the freedom of men to abandon their children, proposals raised by the far-right candidate or those around him.
Milei is starring in a twist that time will tell if it has any cost. Her insults left and right now focus them on Peronism, thereby changing her axis. Until now, her rise had occurred with the denunciation of “the caste”, in which she included Together for Change, and she was careful to make a more brutal anti-Peronism, a terrain in which her former opponent Bullrich handled herself. The far-right tweeted an image of a hug between a lion, as it is considered, and a duck, Patricia’s nickname.
The leaders of the coalition are intercepted by journalists when entering and leaving meetings, they tweet, give radio interviews and each one expresses his opinion.
The two explicit alternatives are support for Milei or neutrality in the second round, but there are others, referenced in a social democratic sector of the UCR, who for now remain silent and could end up supporting Massa. Some youth and provincial leaders have already spoken out in this regard.
After frenetic hours, the UCR issued a statement in which it announced that it will not support either of the two candidates and vindicated its commitment to “democracy, respect for human rights, public education and health.” The president of the party, Gerardo Morales, and Senator Martín Lousteau accused Macri and Bullrich of having left the coalition and of having usurped the representativeness of the voters. “Mauricio could have shown his face, right? He is largely responsible for the defeat of JxC. He is pathetic,” Morales said. He also called Milei a “phony” who “endangers the country.”
Macri’s hand is evident behind the group that agrees with the far-right. Many in his coalition accuse him openly or quietly that he worked for Milei’s victory, and the former president does not make much effort to hide it. His praise for an economist who proposes the replacement of the national currency with the dollar and the free commercialization of hospitals, schools, children, organs, streets, whales and seas and the virtual elimination of the State were a constant in recent months, with tenuous formal objections.
‘You know what, Larreta? Like the shitty lefty that you are, you can’t even shine a liberal’s shoes, you fool,’ Milei had said about a conservative presidential candidate.
On Tuesday night, while Together for Change was endless versions, Macri met Milei and added Bullrich to the conclave. This action of extreme individualism by the former president, typical of a personal strategy that for a long time bore fruit, showed contempt for the more collegial UCR and for the minority Civic Coalition, the third arm of the conservative alliance, which calls for freedom of action. .
Opposition to an alliance with Milei also finds echo within the PRO, Macri’s party. The mayor of Buenos Aires and presidential candidate defeated by Bullrich in the primaries, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, is registered there. He was the target of Milei’s hostility when two years ago he received the following grievance. “You know what, Larreta? Like the shitty lefty that you are, you can’t even shine a liberal’s shoes, you bastard. I can crush you even in a wheelchair, let’s see if you understand… Disgusting dragged worm, capable of doing anything to win an election.”
Neither Macri, nor Bullrich, nor some radicals considered that this declaration deserved to draw a health line. Nor did Rodríguez Larreta evaluate that it had been a limit point to redirect his destiny, and it ended in an escalation of rightward movement in which Bullrich had the upper hand.
Give and take
The hawks of Together for Change have incentives to bet on Milei. After a year that began with a conviction of an inexorable victory for that coalition, a Massa presidency could leave them in Siberia.
Macri, Bullrich and their sector add programmatic interests of a traditionally stark right in Argentina, which sees Milei’s personal characteristics as a lesser evil in favor of a country model much more friendly to private businesses, conservative in civic and social rights, and strict in the repression of protests.
For Milei, expanding its margins of action is a necessity. La Libertad Avanza is a small party, it does not have experienced technical staff or parliamentary benches with sufficient numbers to approve laws. A recurring estimate in political circles indicates that a government needs to fill some 9,000 positions of political officials who come and go with the new administration.
If Milei’s environment is computed among the executives of Corporación América, the economic emporium from which it emerged; the professors at ultraliberal private universities with whom she studied; the influencers who manage TikTok; his advisors incorporated from the archeology of the Argentine right; those nostalgic for the military dictatorship; his sister Karina; his girlfriend, Cristina Kirchner impersonator Fátima Florez; the four dogs cloned from him and the already deceased one, with whom he communicates daily, the number of people available to occupy seats in the State does not exceed two hundred.