Thursday
October 23, 2014

BA City Deputy Mayor speaks with the Herald

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vidal rallies to stop allies from joining Renewal Front

By Mariano Beldyk
For The Herald
A holiday in Pinamar beach resort was no time to rest for BA City Deputy Mayor María Eugenia Vidal of the centre-right PRO party who is already campaigning across the border in the province in a bid to become the next Buenos Aires province governor in 2015.

Along the way she aims to accomplish other talks, as one of her close allies in PRO told the Herald: preventing lawmaker and possible presidential candidate Sergio Massa from reuniting a larger number of provincial allies under his wing, a move that could eventually weaken Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri’s chances for the presidency in 2015.

“Many of them were left with no provincial leader to follow. The idea is to support them so they don’t end up following Massa,” a PRO source told this newspaper.

Vidal on Friday toured the city of Mar del Plata with her political mentor, Macri. However, she had to share time and snapshots with her internal rival in PRO for the post: Vicente López Mayor Jorge Macri (Macri’s cousin).

Even if she manages to defeat Jorge Macri and clinch the PRO nomination for governor in Buenos Aires province, will she be able to conquer the territory?

“Why not? (Sergio) Massa could do it, with only the support of a few mayors like him when they ran in the PASO primaries. And before he did it, (Francisco) De Narváez and (Graciela Fernández) Meijide lead the way,” Vidal said to the Herald trying to sound optimistic.

Congressman De Narváez was the first one to defeat Kirchnerism in BA Province during its 10-year national reign. In fact, the 2009 midterms became the peak of his political career, but his star has since faded, almost disappearing from the map during last year’s electoral contest.

Fernández Meijide, for her part, marked a turning point in the Justicialist Party’s grip over Argentina’s largest province when she defeated the wife of Governor Eduardo Duhalde, Hilda “Chiche” Duhalde, in the 1997 legislative election. But Fernández de Kirchner could not repeat her performance two years later when she lost the contest for governor against the Peronists in 1999.

Nevertheless, Vidal insisted in the signs that last year’s elections show: the weight of political machines is lightening, in her view. And the balance society made after 30 years of democracy —that were celebrated last year— lead people to the conclusion that “change” is crucial.

“Who will lead that change is the question. People are calling for real change, not only in people but in methods. A new leader surrounded by old-fashioned figures and copying the same strategies from the past can not accomplish the task.”

In a tacit way, Vidal criticized Massa, a Peronist who was once a Kirchnerite ally and even served in the administration and only to become their most fierce opponent in BA Province in last year’s midterm elections.

Her rival in PRO Jorge Macri, on the other hand, favours reaching a political agreement with Massa.

Pillars

Asked by the Herald about her priorities for BA Province, Vidal said she was confident she could base her candidacy on three pillars: security, infrastructure and health, issues that she can tackle with ideas taken from PRO experience in BA City.

For example, Vidal said, the Metropolitan Police. The City’s own security force can serve as a model to other municipal forces that some mayors want to create in a bid to reduce crime rates in their territories.

Infrastructure improvements will focus on road works, Vidal told this newspaper. Improving health care means recovering provincial hospitals and clinics, she said.

Vidal said she is aware of how are health services work in BA Province because half of the people who seek attention in BA City hospitals come from the province.

“It’s not rational that some people choose to travel two hours just to be treated for a flu. They should go to their regional hospital.”

Specialists and advisers are already working on different ideas. They still have almost two years ahead until the elections, but candidacies are likely to be named much sooner. And that brought her many problems, she said. Family ones, particularly.

“Well, there were a number of complaints from my family because holidays used to be the time I have always dedicated exclusively to them,” Vidal told the Herald.

“I think I will have to compensate them for this, sometime”.

But it won’t be in the short term as tomorrow Vidal will be already back at the office and next January and February weekends she will be rallying in other BA Province beach resorts like General Madariaga, Vi-lla Gesell, Necochea, San Clemente, Pehuen-Có and Mar del Plata.

No doubt, there is no time to waste. Even in the holidays.

@mibeldyk

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