BUENOS ARIES, Argentina — Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri ruled out becoming a candidate in this year’s election, clearing the way for a primary race between leaders within his coalition.
Macri, who governed from 2015 to 2019, released a six-minute video on YouTube Sunday detailing his reasoning. While analysts and pollsters didn’t expect Macri to run, nobody had ruled out the possibility, either.
“I want to ratify the decision that I will not be a candidate in the next election,” Macri said in the video. “I am confident that you will choose the person who best represents us and that this person will have everyone’s support.”
In the video, Macri warned Argentines not to be tempted to vote for “messianic” personalities during difficult economic times. That’s probably a reference to two political leaders: Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and far-right candidate Javier Milei.
“This kind of leadership ended up being very harmful for the country,” he said.
Kirchner’s supporters want her to run for office even though the two-term former president said in December she wouldn’t be a candidate again. Milei’s outsider campaign has gained momentum as Argentina’s economic crisis has worsened with inflation over 100%.
Macri alluded to the team effort of Argentina’s national football squad that won the World Cup in December as a recipe for future success.
His decision clears the way for two leaders in his coalition, Juntos por el Cambio, or Together for Change, to battle in the August primary vote, ahead of the general election on Oct. 22.
Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta already declared his candidacy and he’s expected to compete against former security minister Patricia Bullrich in the primary race.
Both opposition leaders, Rodríguez Larreta and Bullrich, highlighted the “generosity” in Macri’s decision. “As Mauricio says, this dark time is ending and we are going to leave it behind forever,” Rodriguez Larreta said on Twitter.
(With assistance from Alex Vasquez.)