By Satyaki Chakraborty
Only three days before the polling for the Argentina presidential elections on November 19, no opinion agency is predicting the victory of any candidate as both the Left wing Sergio Massa and his far right rival Javier Milei are running neck and neck in the electoral campaign. Some surveys have shown Milei getting a small lead but a few other surveys have shown Massa in a winning position with a lead of 3 to 4 per cent.
In such tight situation, both the candidates are wooing the 35 per cent of the voters who did not vote in the first round of polls on October 15. In that polls, Massa took the lead with 36 per cent of the votes polled as against 30 per cent by Milei. This was a bit surprising at that time as all opinion polls before the first round of polls gave Milei a lead of five to seven per cent.
In the first round, the third candidate Ms. Bullrich, a conservative got 23.8 per cent votes. She has declared her support to Milei in the final round and this should give a big boost to the chances of the far right candidate. But her decision has been contested by a large sections of her supporters. Finally, her vote bank got divided. Milei is not sure how much of Ms. Bullrich’s votes will be cast in his favour on November 19.
Interestingly, the Peronist candidate Sergio Massa is focusing most on the absentee 35 per cent of the voters. His camp is claiming that they good response from these absentee voters. Massa’s programmes to expand further the social security system for the poor and jobs for the unemployed has been welcomed by the electorate. On the other hand, Milei is depending a big way on the social media which is projecting him as an outsider, not involved in any political corruption and having innovative ideas about reviving the economy which is suffering from an inflation rate of 140 per cent now.
In fact, despite doing a good job for the poorer sections in the present term of the government, Massa has a lot to explain about the inflationary pressures on the economy in the last two years. Since he is the minister for economy, his personal responsibility is being questioned. Massa is however saying that there are some external factors., but the government I doing its best and the economic situation will improve in the next few months.
For Massa, the runoff fight has emerged as a big challenge as he will have to get the majority of the votes to be elected. If the 23.8 per cent of the votes received by the conservative third candidate Patricia Bullrich is added, with the far right Milei, then Milei will have an easy victory. So Massa has to get votes from the conservatives also as also from the other sections of the Left represented by the Socialist Workers Party candidate Myriam Bregman.
While far right candidate Milei has proposed dollarizing the economy and closing down the central bank and opening up to the multinationals in key sectors of the economy, the ruling candidate Massa was sober in his approach underlining on the pro poor schemes and the subsidies for the low income group. He admitted the lapses of the Peronist government in curbing the high inflation but assured that the ruling coalition will be taking suitable steps to control price rise after coming to power.
Massa has been a leading figure in the center-left administration in power since 2019. He successfully focused messaging on the way in which Milei’s proposal to slash the size of the state — from halving the number of government ministries to deep spending cuts — would affect everyday life for Argentines.
Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist who admires former U.S. President Donald Trump, amassed a groundswell of support while calling for elimination of the Central Bank, replacement of the local currency with the U.S. dollar, and a purge of the establishment that he called the “political caste.”
Massa focused much of his firepower in the campaign’s final days on warning voters against backing Milei, painting him as a dangerous upstart. He argued that Milei’s plans could have devastating effects on social welfare programs, education and health care. The health, education and social development ministries are among those Milei wants to extinguish.
Milei also cast himself as a crusader against what he called the sinister forces of socialism at home and abroad. He opposes sex education, feminist policies and abortion, which is legal in Argentina. He rejects the notion that humans have had a role in causing climate change.
Argentina is a vast country located in the southern part of South America. The eighth largest country in the world, it is the second largest country in South America after Brazil, and it’s about one-third the size of the United States. Argentina is bordered by the Andes Mountains and Chile to the west.
To the east of the Andes, the interior of the country is flat, fertile grassland called the Pampas. The eastern border of the country is the Atlantic Ocean. Bolivia is to the northwest and Paraguay is to the north. The high mountain spine of the Andes, called the Andes Cordillera, creates a natural 3,195-mile (5,141.9-kilometer) border with Chile.
The country is divided into four regions: The Andes, the North, the Pampas, and Patagonia. The Pampas is the agricultural heartland. The country is a federal republic. There have been several democratically elected presidents after many years of political turmoil.
The National Congress is made of the Senate with 72 seats and the Chamber of Deputies with a total of 257 seats. There are seven judges in the Supreme Court, but that number will be reduced to five over the next few years. The president picks the judges and the senate must approve their appointments.
For the Latin American progressives, the victory of the ruling coalition candidate Sergio Massa in run off on November 19 is of crucial significance. Only on October 15, in the presidential elections, the left wing candidate Luisa Gonzalez was defeated by the right candidate. If the centre left can retain the presidency on November 19 elections, that will give a big boost to the Left wing forces of the region. Already Mexico and Brazil are headed by left wing presidents. Argentina is the second largest country in this trio. (IPA Service)