December 8, 2013
Bergman fails to shineThursday, October 10, 2013
Carrió, Cabandié dominate BA City debate
Top national lawmaker candidates in Buenos Aires City held a heated televised debate yesterday, as they tried to show their differences in a last bid effort to attract porteños less than three weeks before the midterm elections in a district that makes up almost 10 percent of the country’s vote.
Skilled speaker and UNEN top candidate Elisa Carrió and Victory Front (FpV) head contender Juan Cabandié dominated the crossfire on public affairs, while PRO party hopeful Sergio Bergman limited himself to repeating party slogans and refused to engage in what was the only opportunity for the candidates to meet head-to-head before voters head to the polls.
“We’re here to debate two completely different state models,” said Cabandié at the beginning of the debate that was broadcast on the Clarín Group’s cable news channel TN.
Not surprisingly, the pro-government La Cámpora leader decided to stress the Kirchnerite scheme of “growth with social inclusion,” including measures such as same-sex marriage, the assisted fertilization law and the Universal Child Allowance (AUH).
“These laws were possible because there were lawmakers who voted for them. Many opposition leaders did not support them in Congress,” Cabandié said, before explaining that Carrió had been absent from 70 percent of sessions in the Lower House.
“I won’t go to Congress to vote for the stupid things you propose,” Carrió fired back.
Meanwhile, Bergman insisted that social inclusion “will come with investment, not with favours and electoral submission.”
Battlefield: BA City
Cabandié then pulled out the first of many signs of the debate in order to criticize declining health care investment in the City. Bergman had his own graph to prove it was the other way around (See below).
Carrió jumped in on the discussion and added that “the issue of garbage in Buenos Aires is unbearable, it’s impossible to go around in flip-flops. Tell (Environment Minister Diego) Santilli, he’s right here with us.”
The PRO party candidate dodged this last claim but defended himself from accusations of poor hospital services in the City and insisted that “people coming from Buenos Aires province have made the system collapse.” Public health services in the City are “improving,” Bergman insisted.
His opponents continued to aim fire at the rabbi — the Kirchnerite lawmaker candidate even had the time to recall that “in six years the PRO administration did not urbanize a single slum,” even though senatorial candidate Gabriela Michetti had made statements to the contrary in the past.
“Painting the front of a house does not mean urbanizing an impoverished neighbourhood,” Cabandié concluded.
To interfere or not
Then came the moment to discuss the economic model. Once again, Cabandié insisted on the usual “we’re on it” line, by saying the country needed “to add value to what we produce” and that the government led by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was “correct on that path.”
Carrió, who years ago proposed a cash transfer model similar to the AUH, said she had designed that plan to guarantee a minimum income for all citizens, “not to keep mothers from working.”
The UNEN lawmaker was referring to recent statements from Kirchnerite Senator Daniel Filmus, who celebrated the fact that the measure allowed mothers to stay at home.
Bergman, who throughout the event failed to truly get involved in any of the crossfire between candidates, called for “a predictable country, a state that doesn’t interfere” with business affairs.
Cabandié skipped him and aimed fire at the UNEN leader for her surprising switch from centre-left to centre-right.
“Carrió changed (progressive economist Rubén) Lo Vuolo for (pro-business economist) Alfonso (Prat-Gay),” he added.
The Kirchnerite candidate, who at the beginning seemed to be the most nervous, gained confidence as the debate progressed. But he, along with Bergman, chose to remain silent when Carrió accused the national and the City administrations of “supporting the businesses of (constructing giant) IRSA and (casino tycoon) Cristóbal López,” aiming especially at businessman Nicolás Caputo, a personal friend of City Mayor Mauricio Macri’s.
‘tired of colours’
Attacks on the PRO administration did not cease throughout the debate, aided by Bergman’s non-violent approach.
The FpV local lawmaker showed the audience a picture of the police repression at the Borda mental hospital — a predictable move. Bergman said the case was “in the hands of the courts” and tried to counter-attack by saying that the Kirchnerite administration “takes all City inhabitants hostage.”
“Luckily we’re here to defend the City’s autonomy”, the PRO lawmaker candidate added.
Carrió waited her turn patiently. When given the chance to speak she confessed she was “tired.”
“I’m tired of colours. I’m tired of light-blue, yellow, orange signs,” the UNEN candidate said, referring to signs of public works put by the national, City and Buenos Aires province governments — using partisan colours to indicate a state initiative.
“This institutional confusion (between state and government) makes people believe the Metrobus (line) comes out of Macri’s pocket, that money for works carried out by the national government comes from El Calafate or that (BA province Governor Daniel) Scioli pays for... well, I don’t know what Scioli did,” Carrió remarked sarcastically.
To end, each candidate had one minute to talk directly to voters.
Cabandié asked citizens to think “how they did individually and collectively” during the 10 years of Kirchnerite rule, Bergman stressed that the PRO party “changed the City” thanks to a good “administration” and Carrió chose a personal note — she thanked God “for not abandoning” her when she received 1.8 percent of the votes in the 2011 elections.