Pro-business Buenos Aires mayor gains in presidential race
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES, March 15 (Reuters) - Argentina's economy may be stagnant but the capital city Buenos Aires is looking better than it has in years, boosting the popularity of its mayor as he prepares to run for president in October.
Mauricio Macri, a conservative businessman, has built a strong power base in Buenos Aires and is one of three leading candidates in the race. Some polls show him in first place.
Opponents say he would neglect the poor and side with big business and foreign bondholders, vilified by the government as "vultures", who are suing Argentina over defaulted debt.
But polls show Macri is the candidate most identified with change in a country where more and more voters want just that.
The 56-year-old former president of the Boca Juniors soccer club has been Buenos Aires' mayor since 2007 and has a reputation for getting things done.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters have been helped by a "Metrobus" his administration introduced on the capital's main avenue, separating bus from car lanes and unclogging both.
School nutrition programs, bicycle lanes, pedestrian malls and parks with health stations where people can check their blood pressure have flourished.
Investors lapped up a $500 million municipal bond sale this year even though Argentina has been shunned by global capital markets. Continuación...