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President Macri stuns Argentina and the markets with his vice presidential candidate, a respected leader of the opposition in Congress

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Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto, who currently serves as president of Argentina’s Senate, has been all his life a member of the hegemonic Peronism movement

President Mauricio Macri stunned Argentines and markets on Tuesday by naming the head of the congressional opposition as his vice-presidential candidate in October’s general election. Miguel Angel Pichetto, a 68-year-old lawyer and Senator from the province of Rio Negro has been a loyal and pragmatic member of the Peronist movement since he started in politics in the early eighties.

The choice of Miguel Ángel Pichetto, the 68-year-old leader of the Peronist majority in the Senate, represents a bid by Mr Macri to win over voters in the centre as the presidential race ahead of October polls becomes increasingly polarised. “We will need to build agreements with much generosity and patriotism where all Argentines who share [our] values can contribute from where they are,” in order to reform Argentina, Mr Macri tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Pichetto was one of the four main founders of Federal Alternative, an alliance of moderate opposition leaders aimed at becoming a third electoral option to capture centrist voters disappointed with Mr Macri’s centre-right government but also unwilling to see the leftist Ms Fernández return to power.

It’s a good move. It may be the first creative thing Macri has done since taking power
Julio Burdman, political analyst

Mr Pichetto, a lawyer who has long been considered a loyal Peronist, has been a senator since 2001, first representing Mr Kirchner’s Front for the Victory party, but later falling out with Ms Fernández during her first term as president.

Born in Buenos Aires, he moved to the Patagonian province of Río Negro early in his career, becoming a local Peronist deputy who was loyal to President Carlos Menem in the 1990s. He was later appointed to the national council of magistrates. Mr Pichetto told a local radio station on Tuesday that many of Ms Fernández’s ideas were “old” and “crazy” and reminded him of the socialist government in Venezuela, which he clarified that he disliked. “Argentina needs to consolidate a democratic, capitalist, intelligent, productive, expansive system that generates employment,” he added.

Investors appeared to approve of Macri’s choice. A closely watched JP Morgan country risk index fell 66 basis points on the news to 866 points overall, its lowest level since April. The country’s benchmark Merval equities index jumped on the news, to close up 4.01% on Tuesday.

Source: Edited Version of the FT Times

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