Argentina opposition scores big primary win, hurting Macri's re-election bid

Argentina opposition scores big primary win, hurting Macri's re-election bid

A person casts a vote at a polling station during the primary elections in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 11, 2019.

On Sunday, centre-right Macri was dealt a huge blow in his bid for re-election in October when he polled 15 points less than centre-left candidate Fernandez. "We have come to give Argentina a better horizon", Fernandez said.

Argentina's embattled peso plunged another 20pc and stocks dropped 10pc after polls suggested former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner may return to power, this time as running mate of leading candidate Alberto Fernandez.

The Fernandez ticket, whose two members are not related, contends Macri must be defeated to fight the poverty and homelessness that they blame on his policies. "The markets are giving warning that the government has put itself in a position it can not respond to", Fernandez told Radio 10 on Monday.

Poverty now affects 32 percent of the population. The Argentine Peso is among the world's worst-performing currencies this year.Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move.

To cope, Macri approved a lending package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that totaled upward of $55 billion ($49 billion), but in exchange he instituted a sweeping program of government spending cuts that was deeply unpopular.

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The worst-hit shares lost nearly 50 per cent of their value.

"The vote shows a profound dissatisfaction with the economic situation (and) the worry within society that the government is disconnected from reality and wasn't up to tackling the problems", political analyst Carlos Fara told AFP.

Argentina's main political parties have already chosen their presidential nominees, allowing the primary to serve as the first concrete measure of voter sentiment after opinion polls showed a narrow margin between Macri and Fernandez.

"We've suffered a bad election", right-wing Macri said Sunday night, but vowed to "redouble" his efforts to secure the "real" elections in October. Voters will return for a run-off on November 24 if there is no clear victor.

There could be an even stronger degree of market volatility because the official results by late Sunday indicated that Fernandez had enough voter support to clinch the presidency in October's first round, analysts said.

Some 33 million Argentines are eligible to cast the compulsory vote, which will go on to a December runoff if none of the presidential candidates wins either 45% of votes or 40% with 10 points over the runner-up in the first round.

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