President Macri's Primary Defeat Creates Political and Economic Uncertainty in Argentina By Luke Perry and Phillip Howard
On Sunday Argentinian President Mauricio Macri was defeated unexpectedly in primary elections before the general election in October.
The primary elections, known as the Mandatory Open Primaries (or PASO for its Spanish acronym), narrow the field of candidates, who need 1.5 percent of the national vote to be considered for the general election, and typically strengthen established alliances.
Polls predicted a tight race between Macri and his opponent, Alberto Fernandez, and his running mate, former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007 to 2015). In May Kirchner announced a comeback plan, following several corruption indictments, which included running alongside Fernandez.
Fernandez won 47 percent of the vote to Macri’s 32 percent in a populist left rebuke of the administration. This “stinging repudiation of the austere economic programs” and “dissatisfaction over the direction of the country” resulted in a “vote of punishment” for the president.
Macri told his supporters that “we had a bad election” and that he plans to “redouble efforts” to win back support.
“We are optimistic and happy that so many Argentines decided that things need to change in Argentina,” Kirchner said in a video message to her supporters.
There has been a swift economic impact following the election . Stocks and bonds plunged significantly at the end of the trading day on Monday, as the Argentinian peso fell about 17 percent against the dollar compared to its value last Friday.
As president, Kirchner “nationalized Spanish oil company Repsol’s stake in local company YPF, took over the private pension system and intervened heavily in the economy with exports restrictions and currency controls.”
On Wednesday, Macri announced a series of economic reforms to “relieve the financial hardship burdening Argentines and salvage his political future.” These included raising the minimum wage, cutting taxes, providing bonuses for state workers, and freezing gas prices for three months.
The first round of elections are scheduled for October 27th. In order for a candidate to win outright, they need to have at least 45 percent of the vote overall, or 40 percent, if they beat their opponent by 10 points.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Professor of Government at Utica College
Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College