January 18, 2022 10:32 pm

The Vidal-Larreta society: from tensions to the fight for Pro’s candidacy in 2023

The summit took place at the end of December in Uspallata. That day Maria Eugenia Vidal broke into the Buenos Aires offices escorted by its main slopes: Federico Salvai Y Cristian Ritondo. The host, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, was waiting for his closest partner next to Diego Santilli and Federico Di Benedetto, a rising figure at the mayor’s small table. The vidalista legislator Emmanuel Ferrario, Larreta’s virtual number two, served as a mediator. Tension ran through the air when Vidal told Larreta that he would go to lengths to prevent the reform of the law that put an end to indefinite re-elections in Buenos Aires. That move, which divided waters in Together for Change, triggered a conflict between the tribes that respond to the mayor and the former governor in the district. For the first time, Larreta and Vidal, Pro’s most consolidated political society, showed their differences.

“We are the same”, The Buenos Aires chief usually says every time there is a short circuit with the former Buenos Aires president. The tensions between the two had already flown over the last electoral campaign. But they resurfaced two weeks ago when the negotiation between JxC referents in Buenos Aires with Kirchnerism was activated for the modification of the law that Vidal promoted in 2016 to limit the reelection of municipal chiefs to two consecutive terms. It is that while Larreta and Santilli, his dolphin, quietly endorsed the move of the Pro mayors to reform the regulations and get the chance to fight for a new term, Vidal publicly demanded to end the “privileges of politics.” He even tried to persuade the legislators who until recently made up his troop, such as Fabián Perechodnik, former secretary general of the province.

Faced with the conflict, the Buenos Aires chief and Santilli, who established their position with a tweet when the law had already been voted on, sought to balance with a pragmatic look. They understood that the error in the regulation of the law had generated a problem and left a loophole for the mayors to circumvent the prohibition. The arm wrestling generated bill passes between the bishops of vidalism and larretismo that coexist in the district. Close to the ex-governor they acknowledge that the debate for re-elections exhibited a clear difference between Larreta and his partner. “Horacio’s silence says something. Although the basic reading is that María Eugenia lost the vote, we see that in the medium and long term this will be all gains for her “, remarks one of Vidal’s usual interlocutors.

Larreta and Vidal

Who make up the circle of trust of the deputy emphasize that Vidal “could not remain silent” before the attempt to reform a law that represented one of the flags of his administration. “He kept his capital and distanced himself from the political system. There is a difference with Horacio ”, highlights one of the legislator’s shipowners.

Larreta sheltered Vidal in the Capital after the convulsed departure of the former governor of the province. He opted for her as head of the list and resisted the attacks of Macri and the “hawks”, who clamored to put at the head of the payroll Patricia bullrich. After his landing in the district, Vidal did not hide his discomfort with the mayor’s proselytizing strategy. And, with the electoral triumph consummated, the former governor let her ambitions transcend: not only does she send signals of autonomy with Larreta, but she also warns that she will tour the country during 2022, in an attempt to strengthen the Pro at the national level and weave her presidential project . “They have a friendship, but she is not Horacio’s employee and does not depend on him,” they say in the environment of the former governor.

There are bishops of Vidal who are convinced that the ex-governor must have her own profile and maintain a presence in all provinces in case Larreta’s presidential plan becomes tainted. “If she measures better than Horacio in many provinces, why is she not going to arm?” Warns one of the leaders closest to the deputy. Moreover, there are those in Pro who suspect that Ritondo will force a presidential nomination from Vidal to negotiate an eventual support from Larreta for his candidacy for governor of Buenos Aires. It is clear that in Buenos Aires the mayor bets on Santilli.

Those close to the former governor deny that Vidal launched his presidential project at the end of the year dinner that brought his troops together in Costanera Sur. Those who know her repeat that she would never face Larreta. “If Horacio is a candidate, he will not interfere,” they warn. But they warn that if Larreta’s application is truncated, Vidal is willing to compete in a STEP with “anyone”, even with Macri. They admit that fighting for Larreta’s succession would be an option (“Horacio wants me to replace her”), but they also imagine her integrating a presidential formula with a radical.

Nobody in Larretismo or Vidalism visualizes a rupture between the mayor and the ex-governor. “They will never be able to confront Larreta, not even Macri could when he was president,” says a Vidal collaborator. Larreta, seasoned in neutralizing opponents, does not mind that Vidal weave his own presidential project. What’s more, he boasts of having integrated the City with his partner as a sign of confidence. The most paradigmatic case is Ferrario, vice of the Buenos Aires Legislature, first in the line of succession to the Buenos Aires throne. “If you have serious differences with her, do not commit suicide”, they say in the dome of the City. Larreta agrees with his partner on the need to revalue the Pro to reach the PASO of 2023 with the most competitive candidate. He imagines himself measuring forces with the UCR. Those who aspire to compete for their succession, from Martin Lousteau The Jorge Macri, promises to guarantee clear rules for the intern.

María Euguenia Vidal, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta and Mauricio Macri
María Euguenia Vidal, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta and Mauricio Macri Fabián Marelli

Larreta will incorporate more radicals and vidalistas to his Cabinet –Gustavo Ferrari He rejected the proposal a few months ago – to broaden his base and build loyalty with Vidal and Lousteau. This incorporation policy causes him displeasure: Juan Sebastian De Stéfano, a former spy of the macrista AFI, occupies a chair in the board of directors of Subterráneos de Buenos Aires Sociedad del Estado (Sbase). Of Stéfano, one of the protagonists of the video that commits Vidal, responds to Daniel Angelici. Vidal and Larreta spoke by phone after the outbreak of the “Gestapo” case. “Who filmed that?” they agreed. The distrust towards Macri unites them.

Although the AFI complaint forced her to recalculate – she remained silent for ten days to gather information on the controversial meeting – Vidal plans to remain present on the public agenda. He wants to “debate” with Cristina Kirchner Y Alberto Fernandez. “Beyond the different positions, the bond with Larreta will never be broken”, predicts a vidalista. The rebellion of Pro CEOs that was unleashed with the defeat of Macri in 2019 causes unexpected tensions in the party founded by the former president.


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