Sergio Mass speaks to his supporters in Buenos Aires Sergio Mass speaks to his supporters in Buenos Aires  (AFP or licensors)

Argentina set for presidential run-off

Argentina`s Economy Minister has won round one of the Presidential Election, which is heading for a second-round final runoff.

By James Blears

Most Pre-Presidential Election opinion polls gave right-wing candidate Javier Milei a slender lead. But more voters decided to go for the more conventional and understated campaign of Sergio Massa, who is Minister of the Economy, even though inflation is soaring at almost one hundred and forty percent. He`s tried to absolve himself by saying part of that was inherited from previous administrations and also the strictures of the IMF, which is squeezing the nation, due to its massive national debt. Still, he`s claiming that the worst is already over.   

Proposed shake-up

Milei proposes scrapping the peso and replacing it with the US dollar as the national currency, drastically reducing bureaucracy part of which would involve closing some government ministries. He talks of a shake-up of what he terms the political caste, stressing: "We don`t come here to take away rights. We come here to take away privileges.  While Massa says if he wins he will form a government of national unity. 

High turnout

There`s been a high turnout of 74 percent in this first round, but no Candidate gained the necessary forty-five percent to win outright at this stage. Massa got 36.7 percent, ahead of Milei with thirty and ex-Security Minister Patricia Bullrich was third with 23.8 percent. The Electorate also voted for 130 new members of the Lower House, 72 new members of the upper house and 24 new senators. 

A gigantic and daunting task faces the eventual winner. As things stand, living standards are falling alarmingly. Forty percent of people in Argentina are subsisting below the poverty line.

Listen to the report by James Blears

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23 October 2023, 11:27