Published: Tue, August 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

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

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

Argentina's opposition candidate was ahead in a presidential primary election against market-friendly incumbent Mauricio Macri on Sunday, two TV stations reported minutes after the polls closed.

Argentina's opposition grabbed momentum in the run up to the October presidential election by beating the ruling party by a larger-than-expected margin in Sunday's key PASO primary vote.

Opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez, whose running mate is former president Cristina Fernandez, beat Macri by a wider-than-expected 15.5 percentage points with almost 48% of votes, with 99% of ballots counted after Sunday's primary.

With over 81 percent of the votes counted, the alliance Front for Everyone that nominated Fernandez is on track to gain 47.10 percent, while the party Together for Change, which nominated Macri, has received 32.47 percent.

Argentina's main political parties have already chosen their presidential nominees, allowing the primary to serve as the first concrete measure of voter sentiment after opinion polls showed a narrow margin between Macri and Fernandez.

"We've had a bad election and that forces us to redouble our efforts from tomorrow", said Macri, whose popularity has plunged since last year's currency crisis and the much-criticized $56 billion International Monetary Fund bail-out loan he secured. If no candidate wins outright in October, there will be a November runoff.

Centrist former Finance Minister Roberto Lavagna came in at a distant third with just 8.3 %.

"This gives us the responsibility that we have to reach everyone to give them absolute peace of mind".

"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".

"We always fixed problems that others generated". Matias Carugati, chief economist for Management & Fit, said the victory of the Fernandez team would put "sustained" pressure on the exchange rate and stocks due to the prospect that the South American's recent free, less state-interventionist course could be reversed.

Ever since taking office, Macri has blamed Argentina's economic woes on the policies enacted by three successive Kirchner governments - Cristina Kirchner's 2007-15 time in office was preceded by a single term for her late husband Nestor.

Backed by the IMF, Macri has initiated an austerity plan that is deeply unpopular among ordinary Argentines, who have seen their spending power plummet.

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