Last week’s election in Argentina produced a result that few predicted. Mauricio Macri, the center–right mayor of Buenos Aires, secured almost as many votes as the favorite, Daniel Scioli, the former powerboat racer and governor of the province of Buenos Aires. Scioli, the candidate for the incumbent Front for Victory (FPV) coalition, who the outgoing president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, had reluctantly endorsed, won 36.8 percent of the vote; Macri’s coalition, called “Let’s Change,” won 34.3 percent. To avoid a second round vote, Argentina’s constitution requires that one party receive more than 45 percent of the vote (or at least 40 percent with a ten-point lead over the runner-up). Neither achieved this feat, and so a run-off has been scheduled for November 22.
The run-off vote will be Argentina’s first. The decisions of those who voted for the third placed candidate in the first round, Sergio Massa, who won 21 percent of the vote, will be crucial in determining the final result. Massa is part of the same broad ideological group as Scioli, known as Peronism, which is a mix of populism, social justice measures, and economic nationalism. Massa was a former minister in Fernandez de Kirchner’s government, but broke with her in 2013. In the first round, Massa divided the Peronists, and his voters may swing the run-off. He has refused to endorse any candidate, but in a television interview he rejected the possibility of voting for Scioli.
For the past decade and a half, Peronism has defined Argentine politics, first under Nestor Kirchner and then under his wife and successor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Néstor Kirchner was inaugurated as president in 2003, when Argentina was starting to emerge from its deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression. He stayed in office until 2007, when his wife succeeded him. During this period, the Kirchners took advantage of a global commodity boom: In 2005, they began a drastic restructuring of the sovereign debt on which Argentina had defaulted in 2002 (with a
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