The battle to decide who will govern crisis-stricken Argentina is heading to a runoff next month between leftist candidate Sergio Massa and far-right libertarian Javier Milei, according to data released by Argentina’s National Electoral Chamber after the first round of voting on Sunday. .
After the polls closed, Massa received the highest number of votes: 8,877,325, representing 36.33% of the total, the data revealed. Milei received 7,373,876 votes, approximately 30.18%.
The third place candidate, Patricia Bullrich, obtained 23.82% and admitted defeat on Sunday night.
Each is vying for the nation’s trust at a time of widespread disillusionment with the country’s elite and their management of the country.
The results have highlighted a strong performance by the government coalition that supports Massa, who is currently Minister of Economy while Argentina is in the most serious financial crisis in the last twenty years.
Participation was greater than 75%, with more than 25 million Argentines casting their votes and more than 90% of the votes were counted, the electoral body said.
“It has been a model day for Argentine democracy,” said Julio Vitobello, secretary general of the presidency, at a press conference on Sunday night.
Inflation in Argentina has soared to 138%, Reuters reports, piling pressure on ordinary people trying to manage the cost of living.
“It’s very difficult. Every day things cost a little more, it’s like always racing against the clock, searching and searching,” Laura Celiz told the news agency last month, while shopping on the outskirts of the capital, Buenos Aires. ” You buy whatever is cheapest in one place and go to the next and buy something else.”
After casting his vote in Buenos Aires on Sunday, current President Alberto Fernández celebrated the nation’s democracy on social media platform X.
“I call on all Argentines to defend it and decide the future of the country at the polls,” he wrote.
Bullrich, former security ministerHe told CNN en Español that he would let economists run the Finance Ministry and offer a firm, calm hand at the wheel compared to Milei’s outbursts.
With a long experience in national politics, he has recently worked to refresh his image to attract younger voters, uploading viral challenges to YouTube and referring in interviews to his relationship with his cousin, the singer Fabiana Cantilo.
Massa, who is in the current governmentHe balances a heavy ministerial portfolio that includes inflation control, soybeans (the country’s main export product) and Argentina’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund.
He has been trying to position himself as a more pragmatic voice on the left, compared to the current governing coalition, and has worked to distance himself politically from Argentina’s prominent vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, without alienating his power base.
Unlike his main rivals, political upstart Milei offers little government experience and promises to radically change Argentina’s existing economic structures. For his supporters, Milei’s promises of reform have been seductive.
Milei, a former financial analyst and self-described “anarcho-capitalist” who wields a chainsaw at rallies, has suggested a series of radical changes: dollarize Argentina, cut public subsidies and eliminate culture ministries; education; atmosphere; and women, gender and diversity.
To win in the first round of voting, a presidential candidate must obtain more than 45% of all votes or a minimum of 40% and a lead of at least 10 points over the second-place candidate.
Argentina’s next president will take office in December and begin a four-year term.