Argentina's Macri bashed as voters back predecessor's ticket

Remigio Civitarese
Agosto 14, 2019

The result of the primaries, seen by many as a key gauge for the first round of Argentina's presidential elections on October 27, is thought to be a clear signal that the country is ready to reject the ruling government's austere economic policies, which have been supported by a record stand/by loan of US$ 57 billion.

Sunday's result indicated that Fernandez had enough support to clinch the presidency in October's first round, without having to go to a November run-off election.

"We will reverse yesterday's bad result and we will have a closer election" in the October 27 first round, Macri said, flaked by vice presidential candidate Miguel Angel Pichetto.

Argentina's main political parties had 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.

A candidate needs at least 45 per cent of the vote, or 40 per cent and a difference of 10 percentage points over the second-place runner, in order to win the presidency outright.

"I am sure that today we Argentines begin to build a new history", Fernandez said on Sunday. He says he is taking the necessary, painful steps to get the economy going after 12 years of leftist populism under Cristina Fernandez and her predecessor and late husband, Nestor Kirchner. Most Argentines blame the International Monetary Fund for encouraging policies that led to the country's worst economic crisis in 2001, which resulted in one of every five Argentines being unemployed and millions sliding into poverty.

In what was interpreted as a message to investors, Fernandez said that those who feel anxious, can rest calm, "we've never done insane things in government, rather the contrary, we have had to clear the mess left by others, and that is what we are going to do".

"We always fixed problems that others generated". She now faces multiple corruption probes.

In a recorded message from the southern province of Santa Cruz, she said Sunday's results made her Frente de Todos - Front of All - party "happy and optimistic".

Refinitiv data showed Argentine stocks, bonds and the peso had not recorded this kind of simultaneous fall since the South American country's 2001 economic crisis and debt default.

The possibility that Cristina Fernandez could return to power put markets on edge.

Argentina's central bank intervened, selling $105 million in the foreign exchange market to defend the peso in the face of the massive sell-off.

"This is just a taste of what's going to happen" if the populist opposition wins the election, Macri warned on Monday.

The clear victory of the left-wing Kirchnerist ticket in the Argentine presidential primaries surprised investors, toppled the stock exchange and sent the dollar high on Monday in Argentina, dragging down the Brazilian market.

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