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Argentine Political Outlook (Oct-26-15) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Oct-26-15 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. The runoff election is a great opportunity for Macri, who came in second by two points but in a winning position. It is somewhat similar to what happened in 2003, when Menem won the first round with 2 points ahead of Kirchner, but with a defeating effect that led him to resign to compete in the second round. Scioli will now compete from a position in which the winning expectation has been set on Macri, who emerges as the great winner, though he has been slightly below the FPV candidate. The difference between Scioli and Macri, which was 8.6 points in the open primaries, has now been reduced to only 2.5. Massa resisted the polarization and even added almost one point over his result in the primaries, obtaining 21.34%. The sum of the vote of the three currents of peronism (Scioli, Massa and Rodriguez Saa) adds almost 60% of the votes, as happened in the primaries and also in the three previous presidential elections. Scioli with 36.8 and Macri with 34.3 leaves the two candidates 13.2 and 15.7 points respectively of the 50% required to win in second round. But the "winner effect" is on the side of Macri, after achieving a much higher than expected result and even higher than that anticipated on the night of the election by his exit polls. Of the 37 presidential elections with runoff that have been held in South America (this system does not exist in Paraguay and Venezuela), there was second round in 24 and only in 4 cases the winner was the one in second place. Argentina can now be the fifth.

2. Massa has obtained 21.34% of the votes and this makes his voters key to define the second round. To win, Scioli or Macri need to get more than half of these votes. It is not too difficult for Macri today, despite the Peronist origin of this political party. While the votes are independent of the candidates, the role of Massa can be decisive in allocating some of his voters. The Frente Renovador candidate considers his result as a step in the construction of a presidential candidate, given his 43 years old: he has managed to keep intact the support obtained in the primaries, resisted the polarization and obtained near one point more. The question is whether it will be the anti-peronism or anti-kirchnerism which will define the second round. If the proposal of Macri assumes an anti-Kirchner line, he has a better chance of attracting Massa's votes. If instead he points to an anti-peronist proposal, he may give Scioli the possibility of capturing them. The Frente Renovador candidate, in his speech the night of the election, said he would summon leaders to define a strategy in the second round and gave some signs towards Macri. As for the votes of Rodriguez Saa, while Macri will try to accept them, Scioli will seek to negotiate with him. The left vote will surely continue to support their candidate (Del Caño) and vote in blank. The votes for Stolbizer may split, although ideologically they could be closer to Cambiemos due to their radical origins.

3. Now the wave of change occurred in the province of Buenos Aires promoted the relative success of Macri at national level. The negative image among the public opinion of Aníbal Fernández, candidate for Governor of the FPV, was the cause of the Buenos Aires wave which was nationalized by its effects. For the presidential election, Scioli won in this district - which accounts for 38% of the national electoral register - a 37.13% compared to 32.92% for Macri. But for the Governor election the other way around occurred, since the candidate for Cambiamos (Vidal) won by 39.49 over 35.18% over the Cabinet Chief and candidate for Governor of the FPV. In most of the districts in the province Cambiemos won and also in other major suburb districts, where Peronism has governed for decades. As happened at national level, the candidate for Governor of the Frente Renovador (Sola) managed to resist the polarization and repeated almost exactly the result of the open primaries. As for the other ten provinces that elected Governor, a radical candidate supported by Macri and Massa won in Jujuy, where Peronism had been governing since 1983, and a dissident Peronist did so in Chubut. But in Santa Cruz, the sister-in-law of the President, Alicia Kirchner, was elected Governor and his son, Maximo, national congressman. Candidates of the FPV won also in Entre Rios, Formosa, Chaco, Misiones, Catamarca and San Juan. The eleven FPV Governors elected add approximately half of the governorates. But the five largest districts that account for 70% of the population (Buenos Aires, Cordoba, city of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Mendoza) have been in the hands of opposition parties.

4. As for the Congress, the ruling National Party holds the majority in the Senate but loses it in the Lower House while in the Parlasur the FPV remained first. Predictably, the FPV maintained its majority at the Senate as one third of the Upper House elected in 2009, when the ruling party lost the legislative election, was now reshuffled: it will now have 44 Senators over 72, only 4 seats away from two thirds. In the Lower House, renewal will be for half of the House elected in 2011, when Kirchner took a clear win, and has now lost the majority. A coalition of Cambiemos and Frente Renovador could add 121 seats and steal the House control from the FP. In terms of the 43 legislators of Parlasur, the FPV remained first, Cambiemos was second and Frente Renovador third, in relation to the national result. The political effects of this election will be measured at the Senate on Wednesday this week. That day the Upper House will give final approval to the 2016 budget, the economic emergency, the extension of the tax on checks and the creation of the autonomous entity for the development of sports and the management of its subsidies, if the result of the first round has not altered the President's control over his bloc. Also, the election of the authorities of the Lower House in the first week of December will put into evidence whether the current opposition is capable of generating a coalition with capacity to govern in case of Macri wins.

5. To conclude:

a) The fact that there will be a runoff election is a victory of Macri though it does not mean Scioli won't compete there, as happened with Menem in 2003.

b) Massa's voters will be the major battlefield to define the election: should Macri privilege anti-Kirchnerism rather than his peronist origin, they'll remain closer to him.

c) Vidal's victory in the province of Buenos Aires created a Buenos Aires province wave which derived in a national electoral change that favored Macri.

d) As was expected, the FPV kept the majority at the Senate and lost in the Lower House; Cristina's leadership will be actually measured this week in the Upper House.

 
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