Of all the things that Buenos Aires has impressed me with, its politics probably stand out the most. Today Portenos go to the polls to elect their city mayor, a highly coveted title seen as a spring board to the presidency. The two candidates, Mauricio Macri and Daniel Filmus have been hitting the campaign trail hard in the last few weeks in an attempt to win over some last minute voters. Macri, the businessman and Boca Juniors president, is leading the opinion polls at the moment with one newspaper reporting he’d win with 60% of the votes. In the recent election to decide who would go through to the run-off Macri won decidedly with 45% of the votes edging out incumbent mayor Jorge Telerman. Macri has had posters up all over the city for weeks in his signature blue and yellow color scheme and his and Filmus’ smiling faces can been seen plastered on almost every street corner.
What strikes me about the campaign is the way in which politics is viewed in this city. In the states discussing politics is in most cases taboo and certainly not a welcome point of conversation. In Buenos Aires though the situation could not be more difficult - politics is openly discussed and ever present. While by no means constituting a valid study, the people I’ve asked about who they’re voting for have had mixed results. Macri supporters list a variety of reasons for favoring the popular businessman: most people list his ties to Boca as the most important, followed by the fact that he’s more progressive than Filmus, they also prefer him because unlike Filmus Macri isn’t a member of President Kirchner’s party and thus power wouldn’t be concentrated in the Victory Front. Filmus’ supporters on the other hand favor the education minister because he is more about the people and would fight harder for the workers. Some also say that Macri doesn’t know what it’s like to be poor and that his dubious family makes him less trustworthy.
When it comes down to actually voting, Portenos have an amazing system available to them. Not only is voting mandatory, but it takes place on a Sunday meaning work time isn’t lost. This is completely different than in the US where voter turnout is atrocious and many citizens are indifferent out voting at all. Perhaps if the US implemented some of the measures that Argentina has taken with its voting system people would appreciate the right more and take politics more seriously.
Being in Buenos Aires leading up to the election has been very interesting. I wish politics was conducted in a similar manner in the US, or at least that more people were involved or open to it.