Argentina's next president decided to pursue a career in politics under the most harrowing of circumstances: 24 years ago, he was kidnapped for nearly two weeks and released only after his family — among the nation's wealthiest — paid the kidnappers a reported $2.5 million ransom.
Mauricio Macri entered politics about a decade later in a failed bid to become mayor of Buenos Aires. Two years later, he won a seat in Congress. In 2007, running again for the mayor's office, he won a resounding victory with 61% of the vote.
The son of a wealthy, Italian-born industrialist — Macri's father, Francesco "Franco" Macri, emigrated to Argentina from Italy after World War II — Macri had presidential aspirations during the country's last election in 2011, but decided instead to run for re-election. He won with an even bigger margin, more than 64%.
His 12-day abduction in 1991 that he says resulted in his political career also led police to break up a major kidnapping ring, in which most of the suspects had ties either to Argentina's intelligence service or its federal police, The New York Times reported. Many were senior officials in the police force.
A civil engineer who has long mixed politics with soccer — he was for years the president of Boca Juniors, one of Argentina's best-known clubs — Macri, 56, has promised to get rid of the nation's controversial price control system, which applies to more than 400 supermarket items.
His victory on Sunday signals the effective end of a dozen years of leftist "Kirchnerism" in Argentina, which featured heavy taxes on agricultural exports and heavy-handed government intervention in the economy. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is term-limited, succeeded her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, who served one term, from 2003 to 2007. His wife was elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. Nestor Kirchner died in 2010.
Macri promised to reduce the state's role in the economy and embrace more pro-business policies, as well as shift Argentina's foreign policy away from close relations with the anti-American governments in Venezuela and Iran and better ties with the USA.
He also wants to scrap currency controls and make it much easier for Argentines to change their local pesos into U.S. dollars, a move that would require the country's central bank to increase its currency reserves.