Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

Épresidential election: Argentina votes in dreaming of an end to the crisis

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The second round of the presidential election in Argentina takes place this Sunday ; 36 million voters are called to the polls.

Agence France-Presse

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Long-term care or shock therapy for a never-ending economic crisis? Argentina, tense as rarely in 40 years of democracy, votes on Sunday in a presidential election that could not be more undecided, between the centrist Sergio Massa and the ultraliberal and “anti-system” Javier Milei. /p>

Chronic three-digit inflation (143% over one year), poverty at 40% of the population despite a dense social safety net, pathological debt and a weakening currency are the backdrop to the second round vote.

Polling stations opened on Sunday at 8 a.m. (local) and will close at 6 p.m. for nearly 36 million Argentines called to vote. The first official results are expected from 9 p.m.

For the third largest economy in Latin America, it is difficult to find more antagonistic projects. x27;future.

On one side, there is Sergio Massa, 51, who is an accomplished politician and the Minister of Economy for 16 months x27;a Peronist executive (center left) from which he distanced himself.

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Sergio Massa is the left-wing presidential candidate in Argentina.

He promises a government of national unity and a gradual economic recovery, preserving the welfare state, central to Argentine culture.

Facing him is Javier Milei, 53, who describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist economist.

A television polemicist for two years, he says he is determined to cut down the enemy state and dollarize the economy. For him, climate change is a cycle, not the responsibility of man.

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The ultraliberal candidate Javier Milei.

Between Massa and Milei, there are Argentinians exhausted by successive crises and exhausted by prices that climb from month to month, even from week to week, summarizes Ana Iparraguirre, analyst at the opinion firm GBAO Strategies.

Rents are out of reach for many and mothers are resorting to barter, as after the traumatic economic crisis of 2001.

< source srcset="" media="(min-width: 0px) and (max- width: 1239px)">< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">The report by our special correspondent Jean-Michel Leprince.

Among young people aged 18 to 29, 68% would emigrate if they could, according to a study by the University of Buenos Areas at the start of the year.

What exists today doesn't work for me, so maybe this change would be good, says Matias Esoukourian, a 19-year-old student who is attracted to Milei and his passion, in the absence of political experience.

Neither candidate has good proposals. So, I vote for the one who will do the least harm to the country, which is already in bad shape, resigned Laura Coleman, a 25-year-old nurse, in an office in Montserrat, in the center of Buenos Aires.

To decide between Massa (37% in the first round) and Milei (30%), the undecided, around 10% according to estimates, hold the key.

Milei won a bronca (angry) vote in the first round, but his rhetoric, his desire to dry up public spending in a country where 51% of Argentines receive social assistance, or his plan to deregulate the arms market fire also frightened them.

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A citizen votes early Sunday morning in Buenos Aires.

The anti-system candidate modulated his speech between the two rounds. Fewer appearances, less clear-cut, and a message: Vote without fear, because fear paralyzes and benefits the status quo.

From then on, what matters now is less adherence than rejection of the other, believes Gabriel Vommaro, political scientist at San Martin University.

It is not love that unites us, but fear, summarizes political scientist Belen Amadeo, quoting the famous Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.

The only certainty is that, whoever wins, there will be rapid economic decisions that will hurt, says Ana Iparraguirre.

The country is under pressure from the budgetary rebalancing objectives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to which Argentina is painfully repaying a colossal loan of 44 billion dollars granted in 2018.

Whatever happens, we don't see a good future. We expect to take blows, grimaced Mariano Delfino, 36, on Sunday after voting without conviction.

Adding to the ambient nervousness, the Milei camp has distilled insinuations of fraud in recent weeks, without a complaint being filed.

Beware of the very bad examples of (Donald) Trump and (Jair) Bolsonaro who promoted such messages, or did not accept results, Massa warned.

Five people were arrested Friday and Saturday for making threats against Mr. Massa or his family on the social networks.


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