Polling stations open in Argentina this Sunday so that more than 35 million people can exercise their right to vote in general elections marked in the preceding months by the emergence of a radical third way that aspires to break the traditional struggle between Peronists and conservatives. led by the ultranationalist Javier Milei, who surprised the primary elections by beating the theoretical favorites for the Presidency.
Argentina will elect 130 deputies, 24 senators and regional officials in a day that, however, will have as its main attraction the fight to reach the Casa Rosada. The current president, Alberto Fernández, declined to run, so whoever wins this Sunday – or on November 19 in case a second round is necessary – in December the South American country will have its new head of state.
The polls suggest that the definitive winner will not emerge from this first round, since a direct victory would imply exceeding 45 percent of the votes or at least obtaining more than 40 percent if it is accompanied by a difference of more than ten points over the most direct rival. In primaries, none of the candidates met these requirements.
Not even Milei, who as a La Libertad Avanza candidate became the big surprise by obtaining three out of ten votes. Standard bearer of the so-called libertarians, his messages on social matters leave no room for doubt and he advocates prohibiting abortion, while questioning the official figure of 30,000 disappeared during the last dictatorship.
He wants to put an end to “the caste model” and advocates reducing the role of the State to a minimum, within a battery of messages that would be having a special echo among citizens on the economic side. Among his proposals is the dollarization of the Argentine economy to alleviate the devaluation of the peso in a country that accumulates an interannual inflation of more than 100 percent.
Opposite him will be Sergio Massa, precisely the current Minister of Economy in the Fernández Government, who is presenting himself as a candidate for Unión por la Patria. In his campaign messages, he has accompanied allusions to certain changes with messages of a continuing nature in which he has particularly addressed the working class, the traditional fishing ground for Peronism’s votes.
The third candidate with options is Patricia Bullrich, former Minister of Security during the presidential period of Mauricio Macri. Although her political origins date back to the Peronist youth, she is considered a representative of the hardest wing of Together for Change and she also promises to restrict the role of the State, although not to the dialectical or theoretical level of Milei.
“I’m worried about Milei’s ideas, they are bad and dangerous,” says Bullrich, who stressed at the end of the campaign that she should be the banner of change against Kirchnerism, supported among other leaders by Macri. The former president agreed that, with Milei, “there is no possible change”, with an eye on how the votes could be distributed in the event of a second round.
Macri’s visibility in the campaign contrasts, however, with the step back of the current president and his ‘number two’, Cristina Fernández, who have left everything to Massa and also the candidate for Buenos Aires, Alex Kicillof, to take center stage. This year, polls have placed the level of support for Alberto Fernández’s management at historic lows.
The shortlist for the presidential elections is completed by Myriam Bregman, from the Left Front and Workers – Unity, and Juan Schiaretti, symbol of dissident Peronism and candidate for We Make Our Country. None of them reaches double digits in voting intention and, a priori, they have no chance of going to a hypothetical second round against the three favorites.
The future president will have to deal with a complex economic scenario, since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that the Argentine economy will contract by 2.5 percent this year and that inflation will exceed 130 percent. The official exchange rate is 365 pesos for every dollar, but in the informal market it exceeds 1,000.
In Argentina, voting is mandatory, except for exceptions contemplated by law and which the voter must in any case justify. Failure to attend implies a fine and, in case of non-payment, disqualification from carrying out proceedings before official organizations for a whole year.
The obligation to vote does not apply in the case of expatriated Argentines. In Spain, more than 110,000 citizens are called to the polls in six different centers. distributed according to the different consulates: Barcelona is the most crowded, with 47,000 potential voters, while Madrid concentrates about 34,000.
The Government announced this week the suspension of this Sunday’s vote among expatriates in Ukraine and Israel for security reasons, a measure criticized by the opposition especially in the case of the latter country, since some 14,000 Argentines are registered.