Argentina election: Leftist candidate Fernandez tipped to oust conservative incumbent Macri

Former lawyer Fernandez set to sweep to victory on back of anger over economic crisis

Alberto Fernandez won 47.9% of the vote in August's primary elections
Alberto Fernandez won 47.9% of the vote in August's primary elections

Argentina could take another sharp political turn in Sunday's presidential elections, with centre-left Peronist candidate Alberto Fernandez favoured to oust conservative incumbent Mauricio Macri amid growing frustration over the country's economic crisis.

Mr Macri was elected president in 2015 as Argentines rejected a successor chosen by former President Cristina Fernandez, who is now running as vice president on the Peronist ticket with Alberto Fernandez. The two are not related.

A victory by the Fernandez ticket would mark another political swing in South America, which has seen conservative governments elected in Brazil, Colombia and Chile in recent years. Cristina Fernandez was considered part of the “pink tide” of leftist governments that arose in the region in the 1990s and 2000s.

Now the region is being rocked by unrest in Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador fuelled by discontent over corruption, inequality and slowing growth.

Poverty under Mr Macri has soared, the value of the local currency has sharply depreciated and the inflation rate remains among the highest in the world.

“We Argentines deserve a better country, with work, where we can live peacefully, above all,” said Antonella Bruna, 32, as she voted at the medical school of the National University of Rosario.

Frustration over the economy has eroded support for the pro-business former mayor of Buenos Aires. It has also propelled the candidacy of Alberto Fernandez, whose surge has sent jitters in the financial markets over a possible return to interventionist polices of Cristina Fernandez's 2007-2015 administration.

Mr Macri's camp has tried to capitalise on that unease, portraying her as a puppet master waiting in the wings. But the presidential candidate has dismissed those fears and voters gave him a decisive victory over Mr Macri in August primaries, which are a barometer of support for candidates ahead of the presidential election.

“I don't see a conflict there,” Alberto Fernandez said recently in an interview with the Associated Press. “Argentina's problem is not Cristina. It's what Macri has left behind.”

Mr Fernandez served as chief of staff from 2003 to 2007 for Cristina Fernandez's predecessor and late husband, Nestor Kirchner. He remained in the position during part of her term as president but left after a conflict with farmers in 2008.

Peronism is a broad and splintered political movement that many Argentines claim some allegiance to.

On the election trail, Mr Fernandez has criticised Mr Macri's decision to seek a record $56bn (£43.6bn) bailout from the International Monetary Fund, a deeply unpopular institution in Argentina that is blamed for creating the conditions that led to the country's worst economic meltdown in 2001.

Mr Macri is credited with returning Argentina to international global markets following a break after the 2001 crisis and with helping strike a free trade deal between South America's Mercosur bloc and the European Union amid global trade tensions and rising protectionism. But he failed to deliver on promises to jump start the economy of the recession-hit country.

On the campaign trail, Mr Macri has pleaded for more time to reverse fortunes and reminds voters of the corruption cases facing Cristina Fernandez, who has denied any wrongdoing and remains a powerful if divisive figure in Argentina.

To avoid a runoff on 24 November, a candidate needs to win 45% of the vote, or 40% support with a 10 percentage point lead over the nearest rival. Nearly all recent surveys give Mr Fernandez more than 50% support, which would guarantee his outright victory in a first round.

Nearly 34 million Argentines are eligible to vote in Sunday's election. Argentines will also pick 130 lower house seats and 24 senators in Congress, as well as regional mayors, governors for three provinces and the head of government for the Argentine capital.

Associated Press

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in