Chainsaw in hand, Javier Milei promises to annihilate "the caste" in Argentina, while Sergio Massa, Minister of Economy and official candidate, announces subsidies to minimize the political effect of the highest inflation in 32 years: there is a month left until the elections and nothing it is defined.
Below are three keys to this complicated process on October 22.
– Dollarize? –
Milei gave the surprise in the mandatory primaries (PASO) in August, with 30% of the votes, ahead of Massa, from the center-left and standard bearer of former president Cristina Kirchner, and the former Minister of the Interior, the right-wing Patricia Bullrich, whom he places as part of the Argentine "political caste."
The far-right libertarian economist capitalized on the discontent in this country that registered in August the highest inflation since 1991, 12.4% (124.4% year-on-year), a currency that is worthless and poverty that exceeds 40%.
Milei has already appeared at his rallies with boxing gloves and with a chainsaw, with which he evokes the cuts he wants to make in public services, the size of the State and the "parasitic caste" in general.
He also appeared with a giant $100 bill with his face on it, a symbol of the dollarization he advocates.
But since his victory in the PASO, he has moderated his speech.
Dollarization is now a “system of free currency competition,” in which the dollar is sure to be victorious. And the mountain refers to a "reduction in spending" within a plan of "first generation reforms."
"They oscillate between presenting themselves as an anti-system option and presenting a viable political program," noted the newspaper La Nación.
– “Small plan” –
Polls predict a two-way election between Milei and Massa, responsible for negotiating the $44 billion credit program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The polls place Milei leading the first round with 32% to 35% of the votes, ahead of Massa (29-32), who has regained ground with measures to recover purchasing power since the 20% devaluation in August, with subsidies and tax exemptions that benefit the poorest classes and retirees.
"He's distributing it all over the place and I think this is going to be the policy until we enter the runoff" on November 19, explained political analyst Raúl Timerman.
Massa, Timerman continued, acts like a "president who is up for re-election" with official events that are confused with campaign rallies.
The opposition calls it the “silver plan,” which includes an irresponsible monetary issue that destroys savings.
The IMF in fact showed concern about “policy deviations” and called for greater control in spending.
– The supports
Bullrich is at 25-28%, according to the polls, which were wrong before. In the PASO - which serve as a thermometer for the national - Milei appeared around 20%.
Those “angry” votes that went to Milei in the PASO, will he get them in the presidential election? And the voters of the moderate right who supported the mayor of Buenos Aires Horacio Larreta, the big loser of the primaries, are they going to Bullrich?
The candidate speaks in her propaganda about "ending forever" Kirchnerism, a common enemy.
The vote of the Radical Civic Union (UCR), the historic 132-year-old social democratic party, which has won some governorships in coalition with Bullrich, is also in doubt.
But their support is divided.
"Radicalism has nothing to do with what she represents or proposes," concluded, for example, Ricardo Alfonsín, son of the emblematic radical president (1983-89) of the return to democracy and today aligned with the ruling party.
"It is likely that some of them support Massa, who has radicals around him," says Pablo Tigani, a political scientist at the University of Buenos Aires.
It complicates the electoral forecast, the gubernatorial elections, since regional and national politics in Argentina are governed by different logics. The ruling coalition lost half a dozen, out of 24, while Milei - which won 16 provinces in the PASO - has seen resounding defeats of its provincial candidates.