Argentines await presidential election results; second round is expected in November
Burdened by rampant inflation, Argentines elected president on Sunday between a centrist candidate, a conservative and an ultra-liberal who had serious chances of winning with his proposals to dollarize the economy and eliminate the central bank.
With a participation of 74% of the population, a figure lower than that recorded in other elections, voting closed at 6:00 p.m. local time (2100 GMT).
Although the first results of the scrutiny are expected at 9:00 p.m. (24:00 GMT), some media outlets and spokespersons for the candidates considered a runoff scenario highly likely after a very close election.
After years of economic crisis, the population's boredom with traditional politicians elevated the libertarian Javier Milei, an "outsider" who was the big winner of the August primaries and now competes head to head with the Peronist Sergio Massa, current minister of Economy, and former minister Patricia Bullrich.
The big unknown is who will be the two candidates who will reach the second electoral round: although the polls showed a slight advantage in favor of Milei, followed by Massa and then by Bullrich, analysts consider it almost a fact that the election will be decided in a ballot. on November 19.
"People have heard rational speeches throughout their lives from different leaders. So now they are not trying to listen to great ideas, very rational ideas. Now what they want is for it to change. How? They have no idea, but they want it to change," Federico Aurelio, president of the consulting firm Aresco, told Reuters.
The future president will have to deal with an economy in critical condition: inflation reached 138% annually, poverty reached 40% and the central bank's coffers are empty. In addition, he will have to face a debt of 44 billion dollars contracted in 2018 with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In this desperate context, the main support of La Libertad Avanza, the party founded by Milei - an eccentric economist who worked as a commentator on TV programs - are young people.
"The dream of something better comes from the hand of Milei, in the midst of so much disenchantment that politics produces in us every day," said Dolores Morosi, 24 years old, a student in the province of Buenos Aires.
In the midst of the prolonged crisis, Milei's initiative to dollarize the economy has deepened the country's financial turbulence in recent weeks, which could once again impact the domestic peso after the elections.
In contrast, Massa, who took over the economic portfolio last year in the midst of a financial storm that he failed to calm, has proposed reducing the fiscal deficit to protect the peso, while trying to defend the state intervention model of his center-left coalition Unión por Homeland.
"For me, Sergio Massa with Unión por la Patria represent certain traditional guarantees with which I was raised: public health, public school, which is what I want to defend with my vote," said astrologer Flavia Vázquez.
Bullrich's situation perhaps appears to be the most complex: a fervent opponent of Peronism in power, she has had to save the place of moderation and governability that her center-right alliance Together for Change would offer, in contrast to Milei's radical proposals. .
"I am going to vote for the Together for Change list. I have deep differences with Kirchnerism (official Peronism) and it really seems to me that within the options for change, Patricia Bullrich's is the most rational," said Hernán Etchaleco, director from a communication consulting firm.
To avoid a runoff, the winner of the elections must obtain more than 45% of the votes or 40% and a difference of at least 10 percentage points over the second, percentages that no candidate seems to be able to achieve.
Milei remains the favorite in polls, although "the stage is open" for presidential elections in Argentina.
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