December 9, 2013
Filmus, Solanas dominate City debate
Things got personal between Victory Front (FpV) candidate Daniel Filmus and UNEN leader Fernando “Pino” Solanas in last night’s heated City senatorial debate, as the men battling for second place in the October 27 midterm elections repeatedly accused each other of malfeasance.
Meanwhile, PRO party contender Gabriela Michetti, who won the August 11 primaries by a wide margin, rarely meandered from the script.
The night’s big absence was FpV lawmaker candidate Juan Cabandié, who has dominated the campaign in recent days he was not there and none of the candidates mentioned him. But TN news channel hosts Edgardo Alfano and Marcelo Bonelli did name him twice by mistake. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip.
First, Alfano announced the presence of “Filmus, Cabandié and Michetti,” when the middle name should have been Solanas.
Minutes later, when pointing out PRO, UNEN and FpV leaders in the audience, Bonelli mentioned “Samuel Cabandié.” He meant to say Senator Samuel Cabanchik.
No surprises were heard during the opening statements.
Michetti said that representatives should be “good people,” and Solanas claimed “25 percent of the population is below the poverty line.”
In an attempt to draw a line with opposition leaders, who insisted on the “end of the Kirchnerite cycle,” Filmus asked the other contenders to concentrate on the subject matter.
“We are not voting for 2015, we’re voting in 2013,” he expressed.
Round 1: Country model
As it was widely expected, Solanas chose to attack Filmus, his direct rival for the minority seat, after they ended up third and second respectively in the primaries.
Over the last decade, the UNEN leader said, “foreign-owned companies grew.”
“That was not the case,” Filmus replied — and tried to make a point by referencing several cases in which the State took over companies, such as Aerolíneas Argentinas, YPF and AySA water company.
“You voted for those laws,” the Kirchnerite contender told Solanas.
“I think you’re a Kirchnerite, Pino — only you don’t know it yet.”
Filmus and a large part of the audience laughed.
The former Education minister stressed the country’s growth during the last ten years and argued that it was “the first decade” that ended better than it had begun. But the PRO leader scolded him for “always comparing” the current situation to 2001 figures and said a more realistic approach was to use the pre-crisis period as a unit of measure.
“You missed the chance,” Michetti said. “Daniel, we had ten years.”
Solanas mounted on that remark. “You Kirchnerites are always saying those years are not enough — come on!”
Round 2: Economic model
Before the beginning of the segment, Carrió came into the studio stage and left a little pine on Pino’s desk. It stayed there for the entire debate.
Pino began by proposing the creation of a National Development Bank, but Michetti insisted on certain free-market tropes mentioned days before in the same studio by lawmaker candidate Sergio Bergman.
The PRO congresswoman asked for “more investment,” “clear (business) rules” and brought up the issue of inflation.
Filmus eluded a direct answer but said there were only two ways of tackling it — through “development and growth” or through “austerity,” the latter aiming at the situation in the Buenos Aires City, currently ruled by the PRO administration.
After an arguments over whether the district has hiked or cut spending on education, Michetti gave up and said: “Maybe Pino has a solution.”
“Inflation cannot be tackled through bullying attitudes and by fudging public statistics,” Solanas added.
Round 3: Public policies
Both Solanas and Michetti chose to focus on high crime rates.
The PRO lawmaker said the problem should be addressed through different policies, such as “social inclusion,” and the improvement of both public spaces and the penitentiary system, while the UNEN leader adopted a denouncing tone to state that “crime is the son of corruption” and aimed at the “collusion” between drug-trafficking and security forces.
Solanas criticized both the national and the City governments, whom he called “the kings of overcharging for public works.”
In one of the many times he shouted, the filmmaker took aim at Kirchnerite businessman Lázaro Báez, but also at the PRO party, accusing them of overpricing the works for the Metrobús line in the 9 de Julio Avenue.
“You did not vote for a Public Ethics Law!” he yelled at Michetti. “You’re so ‘democratic’ you haven’t even passed a law to hold primaries in the City.”
The former deputy mayor for the City government denied the claims and asked their contenders to agree on a series of unspecified “long-term state policies,” something the
Filmus tried a last trick to attack the UNEN leader by displaying a graph indicating that the last movies directed by Solanas had received grants from the state-run INCAA film board.
“It’s a right I have — not a favour,” Solanas replied.
After the excitement quieted down a bit, the three contenders addressed the audience for their final words.
“We’re a team,” said Michetti, who instantly mentioned lawmaker candidate Sergio Bergman, who performed poorly in the previous debate and received five points less in the primaries, even though they both shared the PRO ticket.
According to analysts, many voted for Michetti for Senate and UNEN leader Elisa Carrió for the Lower House of Congress.
Solanas presented UNEN as “an alternative to these two governments.”
“This election is to (elect representatives to) control our rulers.”
Filmus begged to differ. “This vote is not to control anyone. We shouldn’t vote for alliances where each force votes differently,” he said, taking aim at UNEN. “If you only vote against something, you’re in trouble.”