Argentina’s presidential election run-off is set to take place this Sunday, with the outcome poised to shape the future of the country’s second largest economy. Economy Minister Sergio Massa, representing the Peronist movement, will go head-to-head with libertarian outsider Javier Milei.
With a population of approximately 45 million, Argentina plays a significant role as a major food supplier on the global stage. The nation’s exports of soy, corn, wheat, and beef contribute to its vital position in international markets. Furthermore, Argentina boasts substantial reserves of lithium, a key component in electric vehicle batteries. Additionally, the country holds vast potential in shale gas and oil.
As Argentina grapples with an ongoing economic crisis, it finds itself burdened by substantial debt owed to international bondholders, China, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The outcome of the election is highly significant not only for Argentina but also for the wider Latin American region, as the country serves as a political bellwether.
The candidates in this run-off reflect two contrasting visions for the nation. Milei, a 53-year-old economist affiliated with the libertarian La Libertad Avanza bloc, has drawn comparisons to former U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro due to his confrontational and theatrical campaign style. On the other hand, Massa, a 51-year-old economist hailing from the ruling Union por la Patria (UP) coalition, is perceived as a pragmatist within the Peronist movement.
Massa emphasizes the importance of safeguarding the social safety net, while Milei advocates for radical changes, proposing to dismantle the existing system that has contributed to Argentina’s severe economic crisis characterized by 143% inflation and high poverty rates.
The first round of voting in October resulted in Massa unexpectedly coming out on top with 37% of the votes, surpassing earlier polls’ predictions. However, Milei secured the backing of Patricia Bullrich, a conservative candidate who finished third in the first round, claiming 6.3 million votes or 24% of the total. This endorsement may lead to an increase in Milei’s support among moderate voters.
The upcoming run-off election is expected to be highly contested, with pollsters divided on the eventual winner. The outcome will determine the course of action for Argentina’s future, impacting its attempts to revive an ailing economy plagued by triple-digit inflation, negative net foreign currency reserves, and a weakening currency. Moreover, the country’s $44 billion IMF program hangs in the balance, attracting the attention of both investors and bondholders.
Aside from the presidential race, the election will also shape the composition of the two-tier Congress, which currently faces a fragmented legislature divided between the Peronists, the main conservative bloc, and Milei’s libertarian coalition.
On Sunday, voting centers across the country will open at 8.00 a.m. local time (1100 GMT) and close at 6.00 p.m. The initial official results are expected to emerge around 9.00 p.m. local time. Mandatory voting applies to individuals aged between 18 and 70, while those aged 16 and 17, as well as individuals over 70, have the option to vote. The voter registry for the upcoming 2023 election includes approximately 35.4 million people, and eligible Argentine citizens living abroad can also participate.
This eye-catching election holds vast implications for Argentina’s future trajectory. The winning candidate will govern for a four-year term, facing the challenges of an uncertain economic climate, political fragmentation, and meeting the expectations of a concerned population.
1. How is Argentina’s presidential election run-off different from the first round?
In the run-off, the two candidates who obtained the highest number of votes in the first round compete against each other. The candidate who secures the greatest number of votes in the run-off emerges as the winner.
2. What are the primary policy differences between Massa and Milei?
Massa pledges to protect the social safety net, aiming to alleviate the impact of the economic crisis on vulnerable groups. In contrast, Milei advocates for a radical approach, proposing significant changes to dismantle the existing system and embrace a more libertarian approach.
3. How does the outcome of the election impact Argentina’s economy?
The winning candidate will play a crucial role in formulating economic policies that aim to revive the struggling Argentine economy. This includes addressing issues such as inflation, foreign currency reserves, and the country’s debt obligations.
4. What is the significance of this election for Latin America?
Argentina serves as a political bellwether in the region, and the outcome of this election will have implications for neighboring countries. The chosen path of economic and political governance will shape the broader Latin American landscape.