Published: Tue, August 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Troubled economy hangs in balance as Argentina votes in presidential primary election

Troubled economy hangs in balance as Argentina votes in presidential primary election

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri looks on during a news conference after the presidential primaries, in Buenos Aires, Argentina August 12, 2019.

He thanked those who supported him, from the party headquarters at the central Corrientes Avenue.

On the NY stock exchange, Argentine bonds lost around 20 per cent and shares in companies from the recession-hit South American country haemorrhaged more than 50 per cent.

Fernandez stressed that the election result testified to the confidence of citizens in his political project.

"This is just a taste of what's going to happen" if the Peronist Fernandez, whose running mate is corruption-tainted former president Cristina Kirchner, comes to office, Macri warned.

Alberto and Cristina Fernandez, who are not related despite sharing the same surname, have blamed Macri for a rise in poverty and unemployment.

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Centre-left nominee Alberto Fernandez led by around 15 points after partial results were revealed as centre-right, pro-business Macri admitted it had been "a bad election".

Macri managed only 32 per cent in the party primaries, which that effectively acted as a nationwide pre-election opinion poll as all of the South American country's major parties had already chosen their presidential candidates.

Poverty now affects 32 percent of the population.

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. The peso has lost nearly one-third of its value so far this year, making it the worst performing currency in the world. "After the primary we will call on all Argentines to get together and begin to solve the infinite problems that our nation is going through", Mr. Fernandez told reporters.

Political analyst Sergio Berensztein described it as the government's "worst political crisis". Voters will return for a run-off on November 24 if there is no clear victor. "Argentinians realized we are the change not them", Fernandez said during his victory speech in Buenos Aires, promising "to end this time of lies and give a new horizon". There could be an even stronger degree of market volatility if final results show that Fernandez has enough support to clinch the presidency in October's first round, analysts said.

To be elected president in the first round, candidates need to finish with at least 45% of the votes or have 40% and a greater than 10-point advantage over the nearest rival.

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