Buenos Aires — In a surprising turn and despite an adverse economic scenario, the Peronist candidate and Minister of Economy Sergio Massa He was the most voted on Sunday in the Argentine presidential elections, but without enough support to avoid a runoff with his closest rival, the far-right Javier Milei.
According to the official count and with 94.7% counted, Massa, who represents moderate Peronism and has been in charge of the Economy portfolio for a year, obtained 36.44% of the votes, while Milei, an ultra-liberal economist, obtained 30.11%. .
Meanwhile, Patricia Bullrich, leader of the center-right coalition Together for Change, was the third most voted with 23.86% of the votes and after accepting defeat she said that “he is not going to negotiate” their values for the second round.
To win the elections, a candidate must obtain at least 45% of the valid votes or 40% and a difference of 10 percentage points over the second most voted. Otherwise, the two formulas with the most votes will face each other in a runoff on November 19. Whoever is elected will assume power on December 10.
These first results reversed the expectations that Milei, who attracted broad sectors with his promises to eradicate inflation and his attacks against the traditional political class, would win the most votes in these crucial elections that take place at a time when inflation It is almost 140% annually and poverty affects 40.1% of the population.
The support obtained by Massa in the province of Buenos Aires, a traditional bastion of Peronism and which contains more than a third of the national electorate, was decisive for him to lead the general election. The Peronist governor of that district, Axel Kicillof, reached % of the votes and thus achieved his re-election.
Massa, 51, was able to add votes with respect to the first open and mandatory elections in August despite the fact that during his term as minister the rise in prices accelerated and poverty increased.
Inflation, insecurity and lack of economic predictability are at the top of concerns in opinion polls. Argentines also mention corruption among their concerns.
When considering the results, Jorge Arias, director of the consulting firm Polilat, highlighted Massa’s “political vocation, his vocation for power, his political capacity.”
“No one considers Massa to be the great economist. As an opportunistic and audacious politician he jumped on the economy bomb in August of last year. He did not do very well, but he continues to try ways that show that the social agenda of this government is sustained despite all the economic difficulties… he shows that he is struggling, although he does not solve it. ”Arias told The Associated Press.
The Minister of Economy has said that he will cancel the debt of some $44 billion that the country took on in 2018 with the International Monetary Fund and promised that he will achieve fiscal order and a trade surplus without giving up social inclusion. He has also persuaded the Peronist electorate to continue betting on the force that has implemented a vast network of social aid for the disadvantaged.
The Peronist has also warned that Milei’s policies hide a cut in basic rights.
Mariel Fornoni, director of the consulting firm Management & Fit, pointed out that it is striking that “With this economic situation and Massa being the first problem, he may have won this election”.
However, he warned that “having pointed out during his campaign how much the removal of subsidies (for transportation and public services) would represent in people’s budgets had a lot of impact and was evidently more scary than anything else”.
For analyst Lucas Romero, from the consulting firm Synopsis, Massa has a candidate in front of him “without political expertise, who may not have the ability to understand that the scene asks him to moderate, build political agreements and seduce voters who may ask for changes in his political proposal.”in reference to Milei.
Both experts also pointed out that the far-right was undermined by the controversial statements made by relatives in recent days, pointing out, for example, that Argentina should cut off relations with the Vatican.
Milei, 53 years old and who was the surprise in the August primary elections by being the most voted, has a speech against the traditional political class, which he calls a “caste” of privileged people, and has been able to empathize with broad audiences. popular sectors that have had their purchasing power pulverized and have witnessed constant corruption scandals carried out by public officials.
His proposal to dollarize the economy and close the central bank to stop the issuance of pesos and reduce inflation seem not to have been enough to remain in first place in preferences.
The economist, who identifies with the far-right former presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, also proposes the deregulation of the legal arms market.
In the elections, 24 seats in the Senate and 130 in national deputies are also renewed and several mayors and governors are elected, including that of the province of Buenos Aires, the most important district in the country.