The Argentine presidential election is shaping up to be a three-way race, with Milei in the lead, Bullrich as the opposition coalition candidate, and Massa encountering challenges in securing a spot in the second round
The primary election results reveal the Argentine electorate leaning toward more far-right candidates. This preference stems from disillusionment with the major political parties and the substantial impact of the ongoing economic crisis. Furthermore, Milei’s victory can be partially attributed to a better-than-expected performance in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, which underscores the challenges faced by the Peronist bloc in attracting informal workers. On the economic front, the government devalued the official peso by approximately 22% (from 297 ARS:USD to 349.9 ARS:USD), while the parallel exchange rate slumped 12%, reaching more than 680 ARS:USD. Amid high volatility and diminishing reserves, the Central Bank of Argentina hiked the policy rate from 97% to 118%. Expect continued foreign exchange pressures and ongoing upward inflation throughout 2023 and early 2024, regardless of who wins the election.
- With over 95% of ballots counted, Javier Milei secured 30.0% of the total votes. In order to secure a victory in the first round this October, the far-right candidate must either obtain 45% of the total votes or achieve 40% while maintaining a 10-point lead over the runner-up.
- Juntos por el Cambio garnered 28.3% of total votes, with Patricia Bullrich emerging as the frontrunner, securing 17.0% of the votes against Horacio Rodriguez Larreta’s 11.3%. The election results fell below expectations, underscoring the critical importance of consolidating the coalition to secure a position in the second round.
- Union por la Patria, the Peronist bloc, attained 27.3% of the votes. Although Sergio Massa secured 21.0% of the total votes, making him the second most-voted candidate, the Peronists experienced their weakest election performance in recent years.
- Participation stood at 69%, seven percentage points lower than the levels observed during the 2019 primaries, and marks the lowest turnout for a primary election since 2009. We expect a surge in voter participation in the forthcoming October election, as historical trends show higher turnout in the first round.
With the first round set for October 22, Milei is poised to maintain his lead and advance to the second round. However, securing an outright first-round win remains challenging due to the limited ability to attract Larreta’s moderate voters and sufficient Kirchnerist support. Our base case continues to expect that Bullrich will successfully consolidate a coalition ahead of the October elections and ultimately secure a second-round victory on November 19 by appealing to Larreta’s supporters and moderate Peronists. Contrarily, Massa’s prospects of reaching the second round and clinching an election win appear slim amid the ongoing economic crisis. Finally, given a three-way race and an electoral system with staggered renewals, the forthcoming government will lack an absolute majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Our projection indicates that Juntos por el Cambio may experience some seat losses compared to its robust performance in the 2021 legislative election, while the Libertarian party is on track to secure around 45 of 329 seats across both chambers.
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