The Peronist coalition in Argentina exceeded expectations and emerged as the leading party in the general election on Sunday, paving the way for a highly contested runoff between Economy Minister Sergio Massa and far-right libertarian radical Javier Milei next month.
Mr. Massa had 36.6% of the vote, ahead of Mr. Milei on just over 30%, while conservative Patricia Bullrich was behind on 23.8% with nearly 98% of the vote counted, a result that defied pre-election polls that had predicted a libertarian win.
Despite being in charge during a period of high inflation, reaching triple digits for the first time since 1991, the surprising strength of the Peronists has created an interesting scenario for the country’s second round on November 19. This round will feature two opposing economic models for the struggling nation.
The outcome alleviates worries about a drastic change in policies if Mr. Milei were to win decisively, as he has suggested implementing dollarization and closing the central bank. However, it still leaves the nation with limited solutions to its severe economic downturn of the past twenty years.
On Sunday, a large number of Argentines voted despite economic struggles and growing frustration with the established upper class.
After the election, Mr. Massa acknowledged that many of our supporters are facing hardship. He recognized the current state of our country as being complex and challenging, but he assured that he will not let our supporters down.
The Peronists were held responsible by many, however, Mr. Massa – a moderate – retaliated by stating that the government’s social programs and subsidies were crucial for numerous struggling Argentines. This was highlighted by a recent demonstration showing the potential sharp increase in train and bus fares if he were to lose.
It appears that message really resonated with you.
According to 61-year-old bricklayer Carlos Gutierrez, “Peronism is the sole option that provides the opportunity for the most disadvantaged among us to access basic necessities easily.” He made this statement as he headed to cast his vote on Sunday.
Mr. Milei, meanwhile, is proposing radical moves such as dollarizing the economy and has criticized major trade partners China and Brazil. He also is in favor of slashing the size of government and is anti-abortion.
In order to secure a victory on Sunday, a candidate would have required at least 45% of the vote or 40% with a 10-point advantage.
The outcome, with a delicate balance and the elimination of establishment candidate Ms. Bullrich, is expected to cause further instability in the already shaky markets on Monday. There is little clarity about the direction the country will take moving forward.
Silvia Monto, a 72-year-old retiree, expressed her observation on the high level of polarization as she cast her vote in Buenos Aires on Sunday.
‘SINKING US A LITTLE MORE’
Mr. Milei has promised to “chainsaw” the current state of the economy and politics, appealing to frustrated voters who are tired of prices increasing faster than wages.
22-year-old student from Buenos Aires, Nicolas Mercado, stated that he is the sole individual who comprehends the current state of the country and knows how to rescue it.
After the outcome, Milei delivered a resolute speech, declaring that he will continue to strive for victory in the upcoming second round in the following month.
He stated that this election is the most significant one in the past century. He believes that by collaborating, we have the potential to emerge victorious and reclaim our nation.
The election officials reported a turnout of approximately 74%, which was higher than the turnout in the August primaries, but significantly lower than the 81% turnout in the previous election. This was also the lowest turnout for a general election since the country returned to democracy in 1983.
The winner will face a struggling economy as central bank reserves are depleted, a recession is predicted following a severe drought, and a $44 billion agreement with the International Monetary Fund. is wobbling.
According to Silvana Dezilio, a 37-year-old homemaker from the province of Buenos Aires, it was difficult to envision a favorable outcome regardless of who won.
“All governments promise things and end up sinking us a little more. It seems unbelievable, but we are getting worse and worse. We read that other countries have overcome the problems that for us are getting worse every day,” she said. — Reuters