Currently representing the party Frente Para La Victoria as senator, Daniel Filmus is President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner´s pick as candidate to run for mayor of the City of Buenos Aires. Carlos Tomada, the current labour minister, is running as his vice.
It is not the first time Filmus has tried to win this election: in 2007 he was also nominated as the mayoral candidate with Carlos Heller—now a member of the city’s lower house—but finished second behind Mauricio Macri after a run-off.
According to recent polls, Filmus is 10 points behind the incumbent. But with Macri set to fall short of the 50% required to ensure an outright win, a second round of voting looks likely. Already preparing for this eventuality, Filmus has called on other parties with a similar ideology to unite against Macri in a run-off.
Education and Environment
Filmus is 56 years old. In his early years he studied sociology at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and later became a teacher during the last dictatorship. His first government position was in 1989 as director general of education for the City of Buenos Aires, but he resigned to become the director of Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO). Later, in 2000, he became education secretary for the capital while Anibal Ibarra was mayor.
He was appointed minister of education in 2003 by former president Néstor Kirchner. During his time in office he implemented key laws to guarantee teacher salaries, make sex education obligatory, and ensure that pupils receive a minimum 180 class days a year.
In 2007, when he first ran for mayor, he received 40% of the votes in the second round, losing to Macri. A few months later he became candidate for senator representing the City of Buenos Aires and was elected on October of the same year. He remains in this post today.
As a senator he was one of the main proponents of the Glaciers Act, designed to restrict industrial mining around the Andean ice fields. “The right to water is a human right therefore we must claim our right to it,” he said in front of the United Nations, referring to the huge water supplies that the glaciers contain. The law was finally approved in October 2010.
Filmus presided over the Committee of Environment and Sustainable Development and currently presides the Program of Foreign Relations and Cult. He is also vice-president representing Latin America and the Caribbean in the Executive Committee of the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).
The candidate has asserted that, once in office, the environment will be one of his priorities. Filmus has criticized Macri’s plan of renting bicycles and extending bike lanes. The senator said in December 2010 that public transport systems such as the subway, which can be used by more than a million citizens daily, cannot be replaced by renting bicycles.
“The national Government and the City working together”, is written on one of Filmus’ campaign billboards, alluding to the fact that the current mayor and the president belong to opposing parties, which has stalled development in the city.
Filmus decided not to participate in the debate for candidates organised by the news channel TN, which belongs to Grupo Clarín. The candidate has claimed several times that he is willing to debate anytime, anywhere, and criticised Macri for not accepting a debate beyond the opposition news channel. Unable to reach a compromise, the mayoral candidate debate on TN was cancelled for the first time in 15 years.
Since polls show him in second place, some analysts say that Filmus did not want to take risks, particularly against his main rival for the leftist vote, Pino Solanas. However, Filmus did join a televised debate with Solanas and Ricardo López-Murphy (running for the Partido Autonomista) on the América news channel on Monday night, and will appear tonight alongside nine other mayoral candidates in a public debate at the University of Buenos Aires. Macri rejected both.
Earlier in the year, during the television show Con Voz Propia, Filmus criticised his two main rivals for bowing out of the presidential race and targeting the city: “It worries me that Macri and Pino choose the city of Buenos Aires as a second choice because they cannot compete with Cristina at a national level.”