Macri suffers crushing defeat in key Argentina primaries

BUENOS AIRES, President Mauricio Macri suffered a crushing defeat as Argentines voted in party primaries on Sunday ahead of Octobers general election.

Given that all of the recessionhit South American countrys major parties have already chosen their presidential candidates, the primaries effectively served as a nationwide preelection opinion poll.

Centerleft nominee Alberto Fernandez led by around 15 points after partial results were revealed as centerright, probusiness Macri admitted it had been a bad election.

The first round of the presidential election will be held on October 27, with a runoff � if needed � set for November 24.

With 87 percent of polling station results counted, Fernandez had polled 47.5 percent with Macri on a little more than 32 percent and centrist former finance minister Roberto Lavagna a distant third on just 8.3 percent.

For those who didnt vote for me, I promise to work hard so they understand me, said Fernandez to thousands of cheering supporters in Buenos Aires.

Were going to begin a new stage. We always fix the problems that others create.

Macri had been hoping to earn a second mandate, but his chances appear all but over.

If Fernandez was to register the same result in October, he would be president as Argentinas electoral law requires a candidate to gain 45 percent for outright victory, or 40 percent and a lead of at least 10 points over the nearest challenger.

Political analyst Raul Aragon had said before the vote that it would be very difficult to claw back a difference of five points due to polarization: theres no scope to claim votes.

Macri faces the unenviable prospect of having to somehow find three times as many.

It hurts

Weve had a bad election and that forces us to redouble our efforts from tomorrow, said Macri, whose popularity has plunged since last years currency crisis and the muchcriticized $56 billion bailout loan he secured from the International Monetary Fund.

It hurts that we havent had the support wed hoped for, he added.

Fernandez had topped the most recent polls, boosted by his choice of running mate � the corruptiontainted but stillpopular former president Cristina Kirchner.

Around threequarters of Argentinas 34 million eligible voters turned out for what was an obligatory vote, Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio said.

Fernandez was a surprise nominee for the Peronist movement as Kirchner � already president from 200715 � was expected to run again.

However, she is embroiled in a dozen corruption investigations, the first of which has already gone to trial, and is a controversial figure.

Adriana Lucheti, 60, who works in sanitation, said she had voted for Macri so we can keep changing the 12 years of destruction from the previous governments that stole everything.

Kirchners eightyear reign followed her late husband Nestors single term as president.

Inflation and poverty

Argentina is currently in a recession and posted 22 percent inflation for the first half of the year � one of the highest rates in the world.

Poverty now affects 32 percent of the population.

Backed by the IMF, Macri has initiated an austerity plan that is deeply unpopular among ordinary Argentines, who have seen their spending power plummet.

The peso lost half of its value against the dollar last year.

The Buenos Aires stock exchange actually shot up eight percent on Friday amid expectation that Macri would do well in Sundays vote.

The markets have little faith in Fernandez, who is widely seen as dependent on Kirchner, but that made scant difference to voters.

Im going to vote for Fernandez and Kirchner because theyre going to create jobs and secure public education. Macri represents unemployment and ignorance, said Josefina Sanchez, a 26yearold who works for a metallurgy company.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)