$10,000 for a candidacy. For the most coveted ones, up to 100,000. Justice is investigating whether the ultra-right candidate for the presidency of Argentina, Javier Milei, has sold places in the electoral lists of his political space, La Libertad Avanza (LLA).
Businessmen, lawyers and politicians have denounced that the ultra-liberal economist’s entourage requests large sums in U.S. currency in exchange for giving their name for the ballots and have been summoned to testify in the investigation opened against him. Milei denies all the accusations, but the scandal has dealt him a new blow that leaves him even further behind the candidates of the conservative coalition Together for Change (JxC) and the Peronist Union for the Fatherland (UP) in the October electoral race.
“Milei has established a system where he delivers the name, the image and blesses a formula, but you have to pay him. The numbers are of the most diverse according to the position. A gubernatorial candidacy is around 100,000 dollars”, said days ago the economist and liberal lawyer Carlos Maslatón, Milei’s former political ally.
Maslatón ratified this Friday his accusation before the prosecutor. For almost an hour he told that within the LLA party there is a selection of candidates according to the money they can contribute.
His statements coincide with those of businessman Juan Carlos Blumberg, who has accused members of the ultra-right party of selling candidacies in exchange for 50,000 dollars. “There are people who paid and were used. The most serious of all this is that these people have made a business with politics,” Blumberg detailed in a radio interview. The businessman is another of the four witnesses who have been summoned to testify.
Apart from the ethical reproaches to the alleged sale of candidacies, the justice system is investigating if Milei’s entourage has incurred in any crime, such as the violation of the Law of Financing of Political Parties. This law requires that all contributions to the political campaign be made through a bank account. Cash financing is illegal.
Milei has made it clear that he will fight back. At first he justified the payments requested to those who approached his space: “Traditional politicians are financed with the State’s money. In Argentina, politics is financed with tax money, the tax payer’s money is diverted to the campaign, that is how they do politics”. As a defense mechanism, he marked a distance with those he considers “the political caste”, although he has held a deputy seat for almost two years. “We, unlike them, we self-finance our campaign. I don’t take a mango [a peso] from this,” he assured.
This Friday he changed his speech. He anticipated that he will take legal action against Blumberg and against those who are replicating what he calls “blatant lies”. Blumberg “pretended to be a candidate for governor of the province of Buenos Aires for having attended a talk of mine at the book fair. The man does not make a mapping between the inanity of his demand and what he can do, then he starts telling all kinds of lies”, Milei said.
The new stumble of the current deputy comes after the resounding electoral failures of his candidates in the provincial elections held so far and the harsh criticism of politicians who have distanced themselves from his space. Conservative media figures that until weeks ago praised him, have begun to let go of his hand. At the same time, his provocative proposals, ranging from the dollarization of the Argentine economy to the repeal of the abortion law, a public health care system or a greater deployment of the army, have ceased to mark the political agenda.
Three and a half months before the presidential elections, polls show a significant drop of La Libertad Avanza in voting intentions. Its support oscillates between 16% and 19%, almost ten percentage points less than at the peak of its popularity. His fall makes the opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio dream of a victory in the first round against Peronism, but for now they collide with the polls. These give them a little more than 30% when adding their two candidates, Patricia Bullrich and Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, closely followed by Peronism, with Sergio Massa at the head. The numerous undecided voters will tip the balance.
Meanwhile, Milei is touring neighboring countries, where he is doing better than at home. This Friday, he held a conference in the municipal theater of Las Condes together with Axel Kaiser, of the Foundation for Progress, which he entitled The Liberal Renaissance, reports Rocío Montes. The Argentine, received with applause, charged against the Chilean president, Gabriel Boric. “Among leftists they get together, that is, among impoverishers they get together, and just as we hope to get rid of the Kirchnerist plague [in Argentina], I hope that you have the happiness and the height to be able to get rid of this impoverisher Boric as well. Here you have had [Ricardo] Lagos, [Michelle] Bachelet. Well, now you have this one”.
Milei’s attacks merited a response from the Chancellor, Alberto Van Klaveren. “We ask you to restrict your campaign to Argentina and not to extend it to Chile”, the diplomat told him from La Moneda.
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