Argentina defines its future between Massa and Milei
Argentines voted in the second round this Sunday to choose between the Economy Ministerthe Peronist Sergio Massa, and the libertarian and far-right Javier Milei, in a close presidential race to which they arrive burdened by a serious economic crisis and in a climate of extreme tension.
There is inequality and very little is heard of what people have to say. It is necessary for politicians to go out to the streets to see reality, they should take time to live like any Argentine, to see if they can pay rent and eat," complained Evelyn Ortiz, a 39-year-old recycler.
With a inflation annualized rate of 143% and poverty that affects 40% of the population, Argentina is going through its worst economic situation in the last two decades.
The electoral campaign has developed between feelings of rage towards the traditional politics that Massa represents and fear of the disruptive proposals of Milei.
The polls predict a technical tie between the two candidates, with a significant sector that will vote without conviction or directly blank.
Massa, centrist, obtained 37% of the votes in the first round, held on October 22, and Milei, the 30th%. Third, with 24%, was the conservative Patricia Bullrichfrom the center-right coalition Together for Change, now out of competition and who, together with the former liberal president Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) decided to support the libertarian.
The voting centers opened at 08:00 local time (11:00 GMT) for a day that will last until 18:00 local time (21:00 GMT). There are 35.8 million registered on the electoral roll.
"Waiting for the blows"
Whatever happens, we don't see a good future. We are waiting for the blows. It doesn't happen like in other elections where I voted with conviction, now I vote without conviction," Mariano Delfino, a 36-year-old voter on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, told AFP.
The elections in Argentina Attendance is mandatory, but in the first round participation was 77%.
It can be a horror or suspense movie. I know who I'm not going to vote for. "I don't want this anymore for my grandchildren," said Marcela Gambra, 67, one of the first voters at her table.
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To revive the third largest Latin American economy, Massa (51 years old) and Milei (53) offer antagonistic solutions to a society that oscillates between polarization and disenchantment.
While Milei proposes drastic measures such as the elimination of central bank and dollarization to end the monetary issue and inflation, Massa It defends a "strong and protective" State and projects a gradualist scheme to straighten out the accounts.
Milei's measurements would all be rapid and simultaneous. With Massa it would be a gradual process," economist Víctor Beker, from the University of Belgrano, explained to AFP.
What would take Milei two months, Massa would take four years: to reach the end of the mandate with the exchange rate freed and balance in the accounts," he added.
Since 2018, Argentina has had a credit agreement with the International Monetary Fund for 44,000 million dollars, negotiated by then-president Macri, and since 2019 an exchange control system.
Massa has said that if he wins he will raise the review of that loan, which was already renegotiated in 2022 with a commitment to reduce the fiscal deficit to 0.9% of GDP in 2024. But for Milei, who proposes to cut public spending by 15%, the IMF goals are too little.
However, "cutting social spending is complicated, because it impacts poverty," warned the economist. Maria Laura Alzuaof the University of La Platawho estimates that subsidies for electricity, gas and transportation services represent 2% of GDP.
The elections are marked by deep political divisions and a climate strained by complaints from the party of MileiThe Freedom Advancesabout an alleged attempted fraud, finally denied by its leaders.
"We are facing one of the most aggressive campaigns I have ever witnessed, and society has become even more polarized," political consultant Paola Zubán told AFP, who predicts a very close result. "It will be a vote-by-vote election," she said.
In that environment, Milei was booed and also cheered by the public at the Teatro Colón, where he went with his girlfriend Fátima Flores on Friday. At the same time, five people were arrested in recent days for threats against Massa and her family.
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