for Buenos Aires Province
Assumed office |
December 10, 2009
December 10, 1997 – December 10, 2005
March 17, 1955|
GEN Party (GEN)|
Broad Progressive Front (FAP)
Margarita Stolbizer (born March 17, 1955) is an Argentine lawyer and prominent politician.
Life and times
Margarita Stolbizer was born in the western Buenos Aires suburb of Morón, in 1955. She enrolled at the Universidad de Morón and graduated in 1978, after which she taught at her alma mater's law school for four years. An avid volleyball player, she created her city's first women's volleyball team. Stolbizer was named to the National Council of Lawyers' Associations and, following elections in 1983, she was appointed Social Policy Director for the city of Morón. In 2015, she ran as a Progressive Party candidate for the Argentine presidency.
She had been affiliated with the centrist Radical Civic Union (UCR) − whose candidate, Raúl Alfonsín had been elected President in 1983 − since her days at the university and in 1985, she was elected to the Morón City Council on the UCR ticket. As such she gained prominence for her role in the investigation and impeachment of opposition Justicialist Party Mayor Juan Carlos Rousselot, in 1989. She was later named staff counsel to the Infrastructure Contracts Investigations Committee of the Legislature of the Province of Buenos Aires (Argentina's largest), and took part in ILO conferences on the subjects of labor rights and corruption, as well as the Human Rights Commission of the Latin American Parliament.
She supported Alfonsín's initiative to create an alliance with the center-left Frepaso and was elected to the Argentine Chamber of Deputies, in 1997. She was named to numerous committees dealing with legal and constitutional rights, and was eventually named President of the Penal Legislation Committee. Close to both Alfonsín and Congressman Federico Storani, her influence grew after Fernando de la Rúa 1999 election to the presidency and Storani's appointment as Interior Minister. She was strongly opposed, however, to the President's crisis decision to return Domingo Cavallo to the Economy Ministry, in March 2001. Cavallo had been first appointed to the post in 1991 by de la Rúa's predecessor and nemesis, Carlos Menem, and was considered responsible by Stolbizer for the prevailing economic crisis.
Stolbizer represented the Argentine Congress in the 2002 conference of Parliamentarians for Global Action in Stockholm, and was named Vice President of their International Council. She was nominated by the UCR as a candidate for the office of Governor of Buenos Aires Province for the 2003 elections, though fallout from President de la Rúa's chaotic, December 2001 resignation helped relegate her to fourth place (garnering 9% of the vote).
She developed increasing differences with the UCR's leadership and in 2005, unsuccessfully challenged former President Alfonsín for the post of head of the Buenos Aires Province delegation to the UCR Central Committee. The party's weakness ahead of the 2007 presidential election prompted the UCR to endorse a stronger candidate akin to their views, which combine social democratic policies with a longtime anti-Peronism. Stolbizer, by then a leader in the UCR's congressional delegation, favored endorsing ARI candidate Elisa Carrió (whose 2001 defection from the UCR had distanced the former colleagues), though Alfonsín's preference for the center-left economist Roberto Lavagna prevailed.
The dissension led to her break with the UCR, whereby she formed the Generation for a National Encounter (GEN), by which she ran again for Governor of Buenos Aires Province during the same 2007 elections. She fared better, with 17% of the vote, while still placing third (Lavagna, for his part, also garnered third place). Stolbizer continued her policy for fostering alliances with former rivals: in 2007, she led her GEN party into Carrió's Civic Coalition, which grew into the largest opposition to Néstor and Cristina Kirchner's ruling Front for Victory; she also secured an alliance with Ricardo Alfonsín, a leading UCR figure and son of the late former President, ahead of the 2009 legislative elections.