The election is wide open after political leaders bow out

By Nicolás Misculin

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters), October 3, 2014 – Argentina’s most recent three presidents have withdrawn their candidacy for the October general elections, leaving the race open and the final outcome uncertain. The only certain candidate is a far-right Libertarian who wants the central banking system to be dismantled.

The financial markets in Argentina are already strained by political uncertainty. A run on the peso has caused it to fall to new lows, especially on black markets. The inflation rate is 104.3%, and one in four people are living in poverty.

Shila Vilker of Trespuntozero, the director of a pollster, told Reuters that this race was a coin flip. What we see is fragmentation of what’s being offered politically.

Alberto Fernandez ruled out running for re-election last week, as his popularity plummeted. His predecessor Mauricio, who is one of the leading figures in the main opposition, will also sit out the race.

After being found guilty of corrupt practices, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner – a powerful Vice President who is a leftist and has an ardent hardcore base – announced in December that she would not be running for any office in the 2023 elections.

According to polls, the opposition coalition Together for Change is still in charge. What seemed like a sure victory last year is now hazy. Libertarian economist Javier Milei has attracted voters from both the left and right mainstream parties.

Facundo Néjamkis is the director of Opina Argentina. He said that there was a rising trend among voters who were very angry about politics and who seemed to be choosing this new force.

Vilker puts Together for Change at 33%, the Peronist ruling coalition at 28-29%, and Milei at 24%. Opina predicts 31%, 26%, and 23%. Milei is the top candidate, but not for parties.

“We represent a real alternative in relation to the political blocs that have governed the country for decades,” Milei said, proposing to dollarize the currency and eliminate the central banks.

“We will defeat any candidate that stands before us.”


The August primaries will likely determine who that is. The conservative opposition favorites are current Buenos Aires city mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and former security minister Patricia Bullrich.

Peronists who are still reeling from economic crisis are now even more divided. Sergio Massa is a potential candidate, as are political veteran Daniel Scioli or interior minister Eduardo De Pedro. Some supporters have called for VP Kirchner’s return.

“We’re putting our full hope in her,” Norma Varela said during a rally in April in support the VP where people carried banners saying “Cristina, for president”.

The poor are looking for someone who will support them and give us hope.

The analyst Marcelo Rojas stated that the diverse range of candidates was having an impact on markets. “Potential candidate have diverging plans from the dollarization on the right to control on the left,” said Rojas.

If no candidate achieves a first-round vote of more than 45%, moderates like Larreta Massa and Scioli are likely to be the favorites in a second-round head-to-head if there is no winner. However, they may not win in the primaries and general election because there are many candidates.

Larreta’s spokesman said that the candidate is confident that moderate voters will emerge from the woodwork.

He said: “We are betting on a silent majority.”

A spokesperson for the ruling coalition stated that things were “undefined”. Other pre-candidates refused to comment.

Raul Vazquez was downbeat on the streets of Buenos Aires regardless of who won.

“All of them who come to power do the same – promises, promises. He said that they then forget about the people. I see many people on the streets who are in need of jobs. They have a lot to say but do nothing.”

(Reporting by Nicolás Misculin; Additional reporting by Jorge Otaola and Reuters TV; Editing by Lucila Sigal, Adam Jourdan and David Gregorio)

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