What motivates people to run for the presidency of their country? Maybe they are motivated by the desire to help people or, perhaps, they seek the prestige and the power that comes with the office. Mauricio Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires, who is running for president of Argentina in 2015 is seemingly motivated by another reason. He hides his personal motivation which is to earn the respect of his father, Franco Macri, and prove to him (and the rest of Argentines) that he has been underestimated. Mauricio’s father is a self-made man. Franco Macri and his younger siblings came from Italy to Argentina at the end of the 1940s, barely speaking Spanish and not knowing what the future would hold for them. In 1951, during the height of the first Peronism, the young Italian founded a small construction company, which became the cornerstone of his business empire.
Over the years, the boy born in Rome became the owner of one of the largest business groups in the country: construction companies (SIDECO and others), automotive companies (Sevel) and even garbage collection (Manliba). Moreover, in 2003, during the presidency of Nestor Kirchner, the Macri Group took over the management of Correo Argentino, the national postal company. Mauricio Macri, enjoyed the benefits of having a successful father. He was educated in private schools, and at the age of 18 (the same age as his father was when he came to Argentina) Mauricio Macri entered the Universidad Catolica Argentina where he graduated as a Civil Engineer. There the Macri story is not very different from any other son of a successful entrepreneur, who is prepared to succeed his father as head of the family business. However, the young Mauricio had other aspirations.
Historically his relationship with his father was never easy. For several years Mauricio Macri held various positions in the family businesses but it was never clear whether these jobs were won fair and square or simply were a way to temper tensions between father and son. Perhaps Macri was motivated to launch a political career by the desire to please a father who would never see his son as a self-made man. Mauricio’s challenge was to be acknowledged by the public.
He achieved this through sports. In 1995, Mauricio Macri became the president of Club Atlético Boca Juniors, the most important of the Argentina football teams. During his twelve years as the highest authority of the club, Boca won major sporting competitions and Macri became known to the public. In 2003 he ran for mayor of the city of Buenos Aires. Although he won the first round by a narrow margin, in the runoff he finished second behind Aníbal Ibarra. In 2005 he started his own political party, the PRO (Republican Proposal) which adopted many exponents of the right. That same year he was elected as a national deputy for the federal capital of the country, a position he occupied until 2007 when he was elected mayor.
The story of Mauricio Macri is much like that of former President George W. Bush. Both wanted the approval of their parents and both used sports to propel their political careers (Macri as president of Boca Juniors and Bush as General Manager of the Texas Rangers). Franco Macri criticized the political aspirations of his son and on more than one occasion Franco himself announced this. Just a few days ago, in an interview for Argentina magazine Noticias, the octogenarian businessman said: “My son has the mind of a president, but not the heart.” To make matters worse, the father of the mayor of Buenos Aires supports the continuation of the Kirchner government which he considers “the most logical government since the time of Frondizi.”
For Mauricio Macri, who was positioned to be one of the major opponents of the government of Cristina Fernadez de Kirchner, this has a double negative effect: it affects his public image and confirms that his father will never see him as his equal.