October 26, 2015


Peronist setback in Argentina may mark breaking of Latin America's 'pink wave' (Jonathan Watts,  26 October 2015, The Guardian)

If there were any remaining doubts that progressive governments in Latin America are on the defensive, they were shattered last night with the poor result of the ruling Peronist camp in the Argentinian presidential elections [...]

When the preliminary results were announced the previous midnight, swaths of the Argentinian chattering classes were stunned into silence. In the press room at the Scioli bunker, journalists exclaimed in disbelief at the numbers flashing up on the screen. Macri was initially ahead, and although his lead slipped as the count came in, he ended less than 2.5 points behind a favourite who had been forecast to win comfortably. Polls had suggested that Scioli was within striking distance of the 10-point lead needed for an outright first-round win. Only hours earlier, TV exit surveys had predicted he would be ahead by a "wide margin". They were laughably wrong.

Instead, he carries a far slimmer than expected majority into the second round and knows that he has a fight on his hands in key battlegrounds. Chief among them is Buenos Aires - a formerly Peronist stronghold that Scioli had run as governor. In arguably the greatest shock of the night, the race for his replacement was won by Macri's opposition camp. The victor, María Eugenia Vidal, was ecstatic: "Today, we made the impossible possible. We are making history," she said.

This was largely due to a misjudgment by outgoing president Fernández, who had imposed her unpopular cabinet chief Aníbal Fernández, no relation, as the ruling bloc candidate. As a result, the Peronists lost the most populous state in Argentina. They were also hammered in Córdoba, where Macri won almost half of the vote.

Ahead of the second round on 22 November, the momentum is now clearly with Macri, the son of Italian migrants, who went on to make a fortune in the construction industry and become the most successful president of Boca Juniors football club. "What has happened on this day changes the politics of this country," he told cheering supporters, promising to work "morning, noon and night to earn [voters'] trust and demonstrate they made the right decision".

Posted by at October 26, 2015 12:57 PM

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