Argentina Turns Over a New Leaf

On Sunday, October 25th, Argentina turned over a new leaf. Presidential and congressional elections marked the end of two consecutive terms of government under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner,...

On Sunday, October 25th, Argentina turned over a new leaf. Presidential and congressional elections marked the end of two consecutive terms of government under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the wife of the late Argentine President Néstor Kirchner. This election season, which began with primaries in early August, unfolded during what has been a difficult time for Argentina. In the last few years, the country has had to deal with growing economic woes, political disaccord, and social insecurity. Argentina’s economy has been largely stagnant, the fiscal deficit growing, and levels of foreign and domestic investment hardly comparable to those in neighboring countries, Brazil and Chile (The Washington Post).

Under the current administration, there has been a significant deterioration in Argentina’s diplomatic relations with the U.S. Ms. Fernández also dramatically expanded the role of the state in the economy through the expropriation of YPF, the nation´s largest oil company, in 2012, as well as the nationalization of Argentine Airlines. Due to term limits, Ms. Fernández must step down on December 10. This will mark the end of 12 years of Kirchnerismo, which began with Néstor Kirchner, who governed Argentina from 2003 to 2007 and died in 2010.

The three main candidates contending for the presidency were: current Mayor of Buenos Aires Mauricio Macri of Republican Proposal (PRO), Sergio Massa, a national deputy from the province of Buenos Aires and a member of the Renewal Front (FR), and Daniel Scioli, governor of the province of Buenos Aires and member of the ruling party, the Front for Victory (FPV) (The Baker Institute). Mr. Massa and Mr. Scioli belong to the the country´s Peronist movement that was founded and led by Juan Domingo Perón, former army colonel and president of Argentina from 1946-52, 1952-55 and 1973-74. Pre-election opinion polls showed Mr. Scioli, who received the backing of Ms. Fernández, ahead of Mr. Macri, whose coalition Cambiemos (Let´s Change) espouses a liberal and pro-market agenda. According to Argentine electoral rules, the winner needs either more than 45 percent of the vote, or, at least 40 percent with a 10 percent lead over the second-place candidate (The Baker Institute). If not, a runoff election would take place on November 22. Alongside discussions of Mr. Scioli as the pre-election frontrunner, there was also speculation about the possibility of a runoff between Mr. Scioli and Mr. Macri, which would mark the first ever presidential runoff in the history of Argentina.

A voting station inside a school in Vicente López, a suburb of Buenos Aires. ©Tomas Remon

A voting station inside a school in Vicente López, a suburb of Buenos Aires.
©Tomas Remon

On Sunday, more than 32 million Argentines headed to the polls. However, as evening turned to night, and night turned to late night, Argentines remained without updates/results from the government. The unanticipated six-hour delay in the government’s reporting of the official results extended past midnight and generated nationwide frustration and angst. When the preliminary official results finally did begin to trickle in, they revealed that Mr. Macri led Mr. Scioli by a small margin (La Nación Argentina). By the following morning, more than 90 percent of the votes had been counted and the final results for Mr. Scioli and Mr. Macri were 36,86 percent and 34,33 percent, respectively. This means that the two candidates have a little under a month to rev up their engines before the runoff elections. It also gives Argentina and the international community an ample amount of time to continue speculating about the country´s future.

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Opinion
Kayla Chen

Kayla is currently a research analyst in Washington, D.C. She received her Master’s in International Relations from the Barcelona Institute of International Studies. Previously, she worked for the U.S. State Department and also in international education and public relations and communications. Kayla is passionate about all things Latin America and has spent significant time traveling and working in South America, particularly in Argentina. She used to be an International Affairs contributor at Words in the Bucket.

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