Economy Minister Sergio Massa will face right-wing populist candidate Javier Miley in a new round of elections scheduled for November, preliminary results of Argentina’s presidential elections showed.
After counting about 86% of the votes, Massa got 36%, while Miley got 30%.
To win the election in the first round, a candidate must either obtain 45 percent of the vote or 40 percent, while at the same time leading by 10 percentage points.
About 35 million Argentines were eligible to vote, and about three-quarters of them participated. The country is experiencing the worst economic crisis in two decades, and there is great anger against the political elite.
Before the election, Massa, a member of the country’s centre-left government, was ranked second in most opinion polls. It was led by Javier Maile, a staunch right-wing economist and market liberal, who is extremely conservative on issues of value.
Massa’s surprisingly good support comes even though inflation in the country during his term exceeded 100 percent for the first time since 1991.
He promised to reduce the state’s fiscal deficit, commit to the peso as a currency and protect the social safety net.
Miley wants to get rid of the central bank and introduce the US dollar as the currency.
He also wants to privatize state-owned companies, close public infrastructure projects, change the working environment law so that it is easier to fire employees and implement deep cuts in the public sector to reduce public spending.
Argentina tops the list of countries with debts to the International Monetary Fund. The country owes more than 480 billion Norwegian kroner, and the inflation rate is now about 140 percent a year.
More than 40 percent of Argentina’s 46 million people now live in poverty, a significant increase compared to the 30 percent who were considered poor seven years ago, according to the country’s statistics authority.
The second and decisive electoral round will be held on November 19.
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