Published on The Bubble
Miguel Torres del Sel, the PRO party’s gubernatorial candidate, had an outstanding showing in Santa Fe Province this month: he led with 32.2 percent of the vote (Frente Progresista Cívico y Social, in second, garnered 31.8%) of that province’s PASO (or primary vote).
But who is this guy? First of all, a comedian. Then, a politician. What happens if you put those things together? In this case, it turned into a stereotype of the typical Argentine “macho”, a concept around which Del Sel has made his career.
So here’s a bit about the man that everyone needs to know about.
A «Hilarious» Man
Miguel Del Sel was part of a comedy group called “Midachi”. This occupation led him to big success and fame, and was until recently the only reason people knew his name. Along with “Dady” Brieva and “El Chino”, this trio toured the country until he decided to run for office.
Incidentally, Midachi the group tells us a lot about Del Sel the person. The trio was traditionally opposed to “Les Luthiers”, another comedy group. Les Luthiers, formed in the 60s, had an enormous influence of Monty Python sketches and humor, to give a quick location on the comedy spectrum.
Midachi’s been always the opposite: Easy humor based on typical Argentine stereotypes by imitating other artists or traditional characters (Folklore singer Mercedes Sosa was greatly impersonated by Del Sel, a funny Dracula by Dady Brieva to mention a few).
But above all, Midachi has done several sketches on interactions between men and women. Here’s one of the biggest successes of the group, with Del Sel playing the woman.
The problem is that Del Sel started to develop the typical role of the Argentine “macho” in his personal career:
The trope of women as objects has been a recurrent one in Del Sel’s work:
In this video Del Sel plays a policeman. The woman is saying she’s been raped, and the sketch takes it from there, joke after joke (easy ones, of course), callously making light of rape.
The jokes are doubly moronic in that Santa Fe province has a big problem with human trafficking, and many young women are forced into prostitution. It’s the fifth-most common place for prostitutes in Argentina to come from.
So this kind of humor, growing out of Midachi, launched Del Sel’s political career. Why? What does it have to do with his candidacy in the real world?
A Misogynistic Campaign
You might argue, or even think, that what Del Sel has done before his declaration as a politician doesn’t matter.
The big problem is that a there’s a continuity between what we’ve been describing in Del Sel’s humor and Miguel del Sel’s campaign. In this campaign ad, he says “bring the hookers” to some workers:
When Del Sel decided to make the jump into politics, two scenarios could be pictured. Ether he started changing his style based on pointing at women as objects and his aggressive comments about women (or of parts of women, to be precise) or he took advantage of it. Guess which route he chose? And to be fair he might have done so based on people’s preferences.
Del Sel, on Macri’s plan to be President
So, what’s Del Sel’s relevance on the national arena? Is he a key piece of the PRO’s puzzle, or just an anomaly? It’s the former, and here’s why:
First. Macri’s party’s been working hard on several provinces. One of the biggest problems he had on his political career was the ability to form a national force that could exceed the limits of Buenos Aires City. Del Sel is a popular figure, well known by everyone. Not only in Santa Fe, but the entire country. This helps Macri towards cobbling together a national coalition. To paint the country in yellow, you need more than one or two painters.
Secondly, his informal style is an asset to Macri. Macri’s built up an image that avoids the formality of politics: he is not “Macri”, he is Mauricio. Names, not surnames, please. Michetti and Rodríguez Larreta (candidates in the Buenos Aires City PASO) are Gabriela and Horacio. And so on. In this political train of thought, Del Sel fits right on its place. The line of formality is so far from Del Sel that looks like a dot.
Thirdly, the idea of “gestion”. Another pillar of PRO’s way of doing politics is based on the idea that politics, by itself, is something bad. Such an attitude is likely a response to the events of 2001, when society got the idea that every politician was dishonest. Del Sel, again, is a key piece of this puzzle: He never talks about political ideas, he talks from “common sense”, as he likes to say.
Don’t ask us what that common sense indicates in terms of policy when he says “drug dealers will have to go away from Santa Fe” without specifying any political measures to achieve that goal.
This is who Miguel del Sel is, likely the next governor of Santa Fe.
Every election has its silver lining. Tell us if you find one here.