Argentina’s Macri chooses moderate running mate in move to broaden base

FILE PHOTO – Argentina’s Lawmaker Miguel Angel Pichetto reacts before the opening session of the 137th legislative term in Buenos Aires, Argentina March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Moderate Argentine Senator Miguel Pichetto will run as vice-presidential candidate with President Mauricio Macri in October elections, the president wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, a selection that could help broaden the struggling leader’s voting base.

In a series of tweets, Macri, a center-right former businessman whose popularity has been hit by a flagging economy and high inflation, called the October election an opportunity to “consolidate democracy” and laid out a series of goals such as defending human rights and combating crime.

“For all of this, we’ll need to build agreements with a lot of generosity and patriotism, which all Argentines who share these values can support,” Macri wrote.

“Because of all of this, I want to announce that Miguel Angel Pichetto will accompany me as vice-presidential candidate.”

Pichetto, who currently serves as president of Argentina’s Senate, is part of Peronism, an ideologically diverse political movement in Argentina. Considered a moderate, he supported the administration of leftist former president and current vice-presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez during her 2007-2015 administration.

He then moved to the center and was a key player in allowing Macri, who took power in 2015, to seal a final deal with holders of Argentine bonds, which was key to loosening up access to international financial markets.

Investors appeared to approve of Macri’s choice. A closely watched JP Morgan country risk index fell 52 basis points on the news to 880 points overall, its lowest level since April.

“From here through 2023 there has to be a consensus-based government, and I think that, seeing it from that perspective, (Pichetto) is not a bad candidate, if nothing else because he ensures governability,” Leonardo Svirsky of Buenos Aires-based Bull Market Brokers wrote on Twitter.

Reporting by Gram Slattery and Walter Bianchi; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Phil Berlowitz

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