Are Macri’s statements on the “Correo” scandal being blown out of proportion to make him look bad during an election year? Regardless of which side of the political fence you tend to sit on it looks like campaign season has officially started.
During his press conference last week, President Mauricio Macri argued that “a lot of things that were said about” the controversial agreement between the State and the company that administered the postal service during the 90’s — t belonged to Macri’s father — were “not true” and could be attributed to the fact that it “is an election year.”
In other words, Macri is claiming that his political enemies gave the issue a malicious spin in an attempt to make his administration look bad and to score a couple cheap political points at the same time, with the end goal being to beat his political coalition in this year’s congressional elections.
While an argument could probably be made to back and to retort this, the issue warrants a bit of thought. What can’t be argued with is that for the better part of a month there has been multiple scandals that have affected the political leader’s public perception, with specific groups and political actors coming out in the wake of each to demand justice and to score some positive PR points by contrast.
Macri’s assertion that the “Correo” scandal was politically motivated could be a sign that campaign season is gearing up early. The news that dominated the conversation over the weekend is further proof of this theory. Last Saturday, most outlets leaked two different audios where Renewal Front (FR) leader, Sergio Massa, can be heard requesting the messages’ receivers to tweet against Macri and in his favor.
In the first case, he asks his party’s deputies to tweet against the Macri administration’s decision to change the system used to calculate pensions. Massa intended to have them draw a parallel between Macri and former President Fernando De La Rúa, who abruptly left his post in 2001 amid one of the country’s most severe economic, social and political crises in its history.
Before resigning, De La Rúa slashed pensions by 13 percent, which is most likely the motivation behind why Massa asks them to use the hashtag #MacriCutsBackLikeDeLaRúa (Macri corta como De La Rúa).
In the other audio, Mass asks someone to come up with “two or three” statements he could make on a TV show later in the day that could be made Trending Topic in Twitter.
The FR closed ranks and accused the Government of leaking the audios. Audios which, they said, were edited.
“The audio proves two things: that the Government has its own ‘Project X’ to spy on the opposition and that, just like De La Rúa, he [Macri] used pensioners as an austerity measure,” reads the tweet.
However, Massa’s most important political ally for this election, Margarita Stolbizer, said that while what he said is true, she doesn’t like it” because she doesn’t run these “kinds of campaigns.” Cracking the alliance could be one of the Government’s main goals this year. Stolbizer could bring in a significant number of votes for Massa that otherwise would go to the current administration.
Government sources told LPO this is far from true. “They say the leak would come from people within the FR, upset because they are being left out of the election ballots,” claims the outlet.
But the other side of the political spectrum hasn’t been exempt from damaging leaks either. An official document that outlines how to take the kind of pictures the Macri administration wants from photographers during the President’s visit to San Luis were also leaked over the weekend. According to LPO, Province Governor Alberto Rodríguez Saá was behind the leak, upset over Macri reaching an campaign agreement with the governor’s political opponent in the province, Claudio Poggi.
Esto es filtracion Sres!Un mensaje a la militancia q pregq hacer ante el recortes jubilados es nada!hablemos d la miseria q cobran muchos pic.twitter.com/lXb7ilBlDd
The leak shows the Government’s intent to produce that perfect picture of a spontaneous meeting between Macri and the people attending the rallies. “Have the public work in the background,” was one of the suggestions, which includes an example of the perfect image of Macri and an older woman.
However, the picture didn’t have as much repercussion as Massa’s audios and government representatives didn’t come out to counter the jab. To be fair, they were probably busy with handling the Correo scandal. While many in the political trenches were busy rotating between damage control and mudslinging, leaders like Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio and Deputy Elisa “Lilita” Carrió came out to defend the government’s decision to backtrack on the “Correo” agreement, and attacked the previous administration at the same time. Because even though it didn’t take a hit this weekend, the Victory Front (FpV) will also be a heavyweight in this election and has had its own share of political scandals recently.
Leaks where former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner can be heard calling her right-hand-man, former Intelligence Agency head Oscar Parrilli, a “Pelotudo,” and asking intelligence officers to blackmail Judicial Branch officials into ruling in favor of her agenda, are the perfect examples of what politicians outside of her party don’t want you to forget.
If you are counting down the seconds until you can binge-watch the new season of House Of Cards, Argentine politics could help satisfy that craving in the meantime.