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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Profile: Mauricio Macri
By Martin Murphy
BBC Latin America analyst

Mauricio Macri seen celebrating after the first round of voting
Mauricio Macri is set to occupy the country's third most influential post

Mauricio Macri says he is impatient with traffic jams and does not like people littering public places.

So he is set to have his hands full in his newly-elected post as mayor of Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, a city where protesters block roads almost on a daily basis and where passers-by have the habit of ignoring rubbish bins.

Mr Macri is a rare breed of politician in Argentina, someone who has not risen through the ranks of a traditional political party but instead comes from the business world.

He belongs to one the wealthiest business families in the county and is the president of one of the biggest football clubs, Boca Juniors.

Given the city's budget of some $3bn (1.5bn) and population of nearly three million, the post of Buenos Aires mayor is seen as the third most important political office in Argentina, after the country's president and the governor of the province of Buenos Aires.

Presidential push?

Mr Macri, considered a centre-right politician, is a staunch critic of left-wing President Nestor Kirchner.

His political career started in 2003, when he first ran for mayor of Buenos Aires.

At that time, he narrowly lost to the candidate supported by President Kirchner, but two years later he won a seat in the national congress.

Boca's Hugo Ibarra (left) tussles with Gremio's Carlos Eduardo in the Argentines' win in the Copa Libertadores final
A winning few days for Mr Macri saw Boca Juniors also triumph

His election as Buenos Aires mayor has now turned him into one of the main political figures in the country and many believe this is a step in his bid to become president of Argentina.

Mr Macri has so far denied any intention to run for president in the October election.

Some see Mauricio Macri as an inexperienced politician who has used his family's fame and fortune to launch a political career.

His only experience as an administrator comes from working in his father's business empire and from running Boca Juniors football club.

Mr Macri has also been criticised for having one of the lowest attendance rates in Congress.

He has defended himself, saying that, "Congress is a place that lacks any debate of ideas."

His opponents also point out that his family business widely benefited from government contracts during the last military government which ruled from 1976 to 1983.

Political outsider

But despite belonging to one of the richest families in a country where some 26.9% of the population lives below the poverty line, Mr Macri has tried to portray himself as an average man concerned with everyday problems.

His 12 years as president of Boca Juniors - one of the most popular Argentine football clubs - has helped him strengthen this image.

Some consider Mr Macri a political outsider who is bringing a breeze of fresh air to Argentine politics.

The grouping he founded in 2005 to oppose President Kirchner intentionally avoided using the word party in its name.

Instead, it called itself "Republican Proposal" as a way of representing an alternative to what Mr Macri has described as an authoritarian government.

The question now is whether Mr Macri and his party can expand beyond the boundaries of Buenos Aires and become a political project at national level.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Argentina
25 May 07 |  Country profiles

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