Troubled economy hangs in balance as Argentina votes in presidential primary election

Troubled economy hangs in balance as Argentina votes in presidential primary election

Argentine voters soundly rejected President Mauricio Macri's austere economic policies in primary elections on Sunday, raising serious questions about his chances of re-election in October, early official results showed. The vote, however, is an opportunity to poll voters and determine potential front-runners in the future race.

Although Macri, who belongs to the center-right Republican Proposal party, was not expected to do well in Monday's primary, populist Alberto Fernández and his running mate, ex-president Christina Kirchner, scored 15 points higher in their primary for Citizen's Unity.

General elections will be held in the South American country on Oct 27, to elect the president, members of the national congress and the governors of most provinces.

Argentina's electoral law requires a candidate to gain 45 per cent for outright victory, or 40 per cent and a lead of at least 10 points over the nearest challenger.

"We've had a bad election and that obligates us to redouble our efforts so that in October we will continue with change", Macri said in a late-night address.

"For those who didn't vote for me, I promise to work hard so they understand me", said Fernandez to thousands of cheering supporters in Buenos Aires.

Some "47 percent (of the electorate) sent us a very clear message that we have to acknowledge and understand, especially the middle class, which evidently didn't feel taken care of", Frigerio told reporters.

An acute financial crisis a year ago hit the peso and forced Macri to take the International Monetary Fund loan in return for pledging to balance Argentina's deficit.

"Another sharp and sustained episode of financial volatility that interrupts the recent downward trend in inflation, improvement in confidence and recovery in economic activity could increase voter frustration with Macri and lead his support to erode from current levels". She now faces multiple corruption probes.

Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro warned that his country could see a wave of migrants fleeing Argentina if Fernandez wins the presidential election.

"The (result of the primary) election wasn't what we were expecting", he said.

Poverty now affects 32% of the population. Last year, inflation hit 50% and the peso lost half of its value against the dollar.

The Buenos Aires stock exchange actually shot up eight percent on Friday amid expectation that Macri would do well in Sunday's vote. Investors nonetheless see the Fernandez/Kirchner duo as a riskier prospect than free-markets advocate Macri.



Other news