Saturday, July 9, 2011

Election time - Mauricio Macri seeks four more years

Lefty filmmaker Pino Solanas
It’s mayoral voting time in the city and the walls and billboards are splattered with the candidates’ posters for Buenos Aires Chief of Government (Jefe de Gobierno).

In its present format the position is a fairly recent one. It was created in 1996 following a reform to the Argentine constitution when the city of Buenos Aires was given autonomous status; thus the city’s official name Cuidad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.  

The Nation’s House of Congress is responsible for setting the limits of the city’s autonomy but there are often political and judicial conflicts where the line between nation and city gets blurry.

Previous to 1996 Buenos Aires city was governed by what was known as an Intendente or Mayor, who was chosen by the Presidente de la Nación (President of Argentina) and approved by the senate.

Now it is the people who choose, by voting every four years for not only the Chief of Government but the Vice-Chief of Government and 60 legislators, who run the Buenos Aires City Legislature for terms of four years.

Voting is obligatory in Argentina so every resident of Buenos Aires city will be required by law to turn up with their national identity booklet this Sunday and cast their vote; with men and women divided into separate queues at the voting centre.

The elections use the D’Hondt method of proportional representation and a two-round system. That means that if after the votes are counted no single candidate has an absolute majority, i.e. more than 50% of the total vote, then a second round of voting takes place thirty days later in which the two candidates who received the highest percentages go head to head at a second ballot box. This is slightly different to the way in which the President of the Nation is elected. The system there is also two-round but in the first round a candidate only need obtain 45% of the total or 40% if the second placed candidate is at least ten percentage points behind, to become president without going to a second round of voting.

Mauricio Macri
The current Chief of Government Mauricio Macri was elected in 2007 after defeating the Kirchner backed candidate Daniel Filmus in the second round with 60.9% of the votes. He replaced the Vice-Chief of Government Jorge Telerman who had stepped up to the post in 2006 when the then Chief Anibal Ibarra was disposed by impeachment. Macri had lost to Ibarra back in the 2003 elections when despite winning the first round of voting with 33.9% he was defeated in the head to head by 53 % to 47%.

Mauricio Macri started his professional career working in one of his father’s companies as an analyst before later becoming President of Sevel, the manufactures of Fiat and Peugeot in Argentina. He was elected President of Boca Juniors Football Club in 1995, a position he held until June 2008, six months after he’d assumed the position of Buenos Aires Chief of Government. His PRO party is considered to be right of centre and is a direct rival of the Kirchner’s Peronist Frente para la Victoria governing party.

Macri was widely expected to run for the presidency of the nation in this October’s 2011 national elections but eventually decided to seek re-election in the city. Many commentators suggest Nestor Kirchner’s death and the subsequent boost in President Cristina Kirchner’s popularity was ultimately what persuaded him to not run.

Instead he will go to the ballot box in a quest for re-election in the city this Sunday 10 July.  A poll in yesterday’s La Nación newspaper has him taking 45.3% of the first round vote, while La Frente para la Victoria candidate Daniel Filmus will come second with around 30.5% and filmmaker Pino Solanas from the Proyecto Sur party will get about 11%.

A lot of 'we wants' not many 'we wills'
If the predictions are correct, it means it will be a second round vote in thirty days time that will decide who is the next Chief of Government of La Cuidad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.

And then as October comes around, it will be the turn of the Presidential candidates to hit the campagin trail afull and it won't be just the city that is covered with smiling political faces.

1 comment:

  1. So the way to vote changed slightly for these elections - Men and women did not have to queue separately like they have had to do in other elections.

    Macri 47%
    Filmus 28%
    Solanas 13%

    The second round vote will be a head to head between Macri and Filmus. Of the 25% that didn't vote for either of the two, Macri need get only 11.61% of their vote, while Filmus will need 88.38%. Looks like being nearly impossible for the Kirchner candidate.