While the second round appears more competitive than initially anticipated, Milei will likely moderate his anti-establishment rhetoric to attract the majority of Juntos por el Cambio voters
Following the announcement of a runoff scheduled for November 19, Sergio Massa and Javier Milei delivered pivotal speeches to appeal to a broader voter base and set the narrative for the coming weeks. Massa, the Peronist candidate, delivered his speech flanked by his family, notably without traditional Peronist figures, such as Cristina Fernández de Kirchner or current President Alberto Fernández. Although Massa serves as the economy minister for the incumbent government, he will continue to avoid being associated with the current administration, positioning himself as a distinct and more pro-business Peronist. Regarding Milei’s remarks, the Libertarian candidate frequently employed the terms “juntos” and “cambio,” while notably omitting the word “casta,” a term he previously used to criticize the political establishment. This shift underscores his aim to appeal to most right-wing voters from Juntos por el Cambio, potentially indicating a path toward moderation. Amid a more contentious presidential race, companies should establish ties immediately with both candidates’ teams, especially those who will exert significant influence over economic and regulatory matters. Furthermore, as we uphold our view of persistent upward inflation and FX pressures, firms should strengthen communication ties with HQ to inform leadership about current political and economic events. They should also engage with local teams to assess support needs.
- With more than 98% of ballots counted, Massa garnered 36.7% of the total votes, a surge of nearly 10 percentage points. Despite the severe economic crisis, the total votes for the Peronist party grew from 6.7 million in the August primaries to 9.4 million in the October first round.
- The Libertarian candidate, Milei, advanced to the second round with approximately 30.0% of the total votes. Despite expectations of a first-round victory, his vote tally remained largely stagnant between the primaries and the first round. This could be attributed to his confrontational rhetoric and the high uncertainty surrounding his program.
- Patricia Bullrich secured 23.8% of the overall votes, and her party, Juntos por el Cambio, experienced a decrease in its vote count from 6.9 million in August to 6.2 million in October. This outcome can be primarily attributed to the party’s inability to consolidate the opposition coalition and position Bullrich distinctly from the status quo without appearing overly radical.
- Regarding the legislature, Union por la Patria, the Peronist bloc, won 107 of 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, positioning itself as the first majority. In contrast, Juntos por el Cambio and the Libertarian party secured 94 and 39 seats, respectively. For the Senate, the Peronist bloc holds 34 of the 72 seats, Juntos por el Cambio has 24, and the Libertarian party has 9.
As Argentina concludes its ballot count after the first-round presidential election, we maintain our view that Milei will likely draw the majority of right-wing voters from Bullrich. Additionally, with a moderated tone that appeals to centrist voters in key provinces such as Cordoba, Milei is poised to secure a victory in the second round. Finally, as we stated before, political uncertainty will remain significantly high due to the Libertarian party’s lack of gubernatorial representation, increased fragmentation in the legislative branch, worries regarding the cohesion of Juntos por el Cambio, and doubts about the candidates’ ability to execute an effective stabilization program.
Political Signposts to Watch:
- Relationship with traditional Peronist actors: Considering Massa outperformed in the electoral results, monitoring the balance of power within the Peronist movement will be crucial. While the candidate successfully created a united list and garnered the support of most Kirchnerist followers, his pro-business stance and closer ties with non-Kirchnerist governors might have altered the political dynamics and his ability to consolidate his idea of national unity.
- Consensus building strategy: The Libertarian Party must implement a consensus-building strategy to win the election. Thus, it will be crucial to monitor how Milei’s party works closely with the more right-wing factions of Juntos por el Cambio and how the candidate reaches a consensus with the provincial forces. Additionally, considering the need to secure support from the political establishment, it’s crucial to assess how this new rhetoric will resonate with his more anti-establishment electoral base.
- Juntos por el Cambio coalition: The opposition coalition consists of two primary political parties—Propuesta Republicana and Union Civica Radical. The former is a center-right party led by former President Mauricio Macri, while the latter is a more centrist and social-liberal political party, led by Gerardo Morales, the governor of Jujuy Province. Although Juntos por el Cambio has stated that the coalition remains robust, the underwhelming performance in the presidential election and ideological differences could destabilize the coalition, leading to additional legislative challenges and political uncertainties.
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