Most Argentines consider Sergio Massa, the new economy minister, an opportunistic politician; Paradoxically, many believe that this negative quality is the same one that can help it overcome the financial crisis that the country is suffering.
After decades of militancy in different factions of Peronism, Massa, a 50-year-old lawyer, arrived on Wednesday at the position that could lead him to fulfill his dream of being president in 2023, with the support of political partners who were his rivals in the past. .
The challenge will be complex: Argentina has a high fiscal deficit, inflation of more than 70% per year and poverty close to 40%, which has triggered social conflicts.
To confront him, the ambitious Massa asked for broad powers. If his liberal economic recipes are successful, he will have the doors open to the deteriorated center-left official alliance to be a candidate in the 2023 presidential elections; if they fail, his fate may be ostracism.
“He is a very capable person, with great capacity for study, work, very well educated. But he is also a great pragmatist and hence his decision to put together an agreement, an alliance with the Government”, said the deputy Margarita Stolbizer.
The legislator accompanied the Minister of Economy as a candidate for senator in 2017 to face the also Peronist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, current vice president and partner of Massa in the ruling party along with President Alberto Fernández.
“Another reason why he was able to accept the position is his presidential aspiration.Stolbizer added, alluding to a ministry that many economists have rejected in recent days, according to local media.
His sagacity gave him what his predecessors did not get: the endorsement of the powerful vice president to carry out orthodox policies that Fernández de Kirchner herself – heterodox in economics – questioned in the past.
Unlike the two ministers who resigned in the last month, Martín Guzmán and Silvina Batakis, Massa has his own political structure that allows him to be the government’s last chance to reverse the economic crisis and prevent the implosion of the Peronist coalition in the power, explained political analyst Carlos Fara.
“We are closer to a fatal crisis than ever. So the crisis has made us all more pragmatic, Massa is allowed to propose things that surely Batakis would not have accepted, and less so Guzmán.Farah said.
The “super minister”, who will have control over the areas of production, trade and agriculture, announced on Wednesday fiscal austerity measures and the accumulation of international reserves, in an effort to stabilize the Argentine economy.
Social disapproval; political approval?
Father of two children, Massa began his career in the late 1980s in the conservative Union of the Democratic Center party.
Between 2002 and 2007 he was a Peronist government official and later mayor of Tigre, the district in the suburbs of Buenos Aires where he lives. After being chief of staff of the then president Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015), he confronted the president with accusations of corruption.
In 2013 he founded the Renovating Front, with which he achieved electoral successes and failures, although he decided to join forces with the other Peronist factions in 2019 to create the Frente de Todos and confront the then center-right ruling party.
After reaching peaks of popularity almost ten years ago, his political ups and downs have deprived him of the support of public opinion.
“Massa has presidential aspirations, so he wants to reverse his image because he wants to be president”, said Mariel Fornoni, director of the Management & Fit image consultant.
According to the latest Management & Fit survey, from June, Massa has a negative image of 54.5% among Argentines, while 63.4% say they would never vote for him if he ran as a presidential candidate.
“Massa is a very ambitious person, who dreamed all his life of being president and for that he is capable of selling his soul to the devil. This is the best moment, in which he can end up becoming a superhero or mashed”, declared the businessman Gregorio Feldman, 60 years old.