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Argentina: first successful electoral test for Macri, return of Kirchner

Ⓒ NA/AFP – JUAN VARGAS – | Argentina’s center-right president Mauricio Macri votes in Buenos Aires on 13 August 2017

The coalition of center-right president Mauricio Macri has established himself as the first political force in Argentina during the primaries on Sunday, a ballot marked by the return of the former president Cristina Kirchner.

The vote was merely a formality, with each party having already chosen its candidates for the 22 October parliamentary elections, but it was possible to measure the strengths of each side before the midterm elections.

At the national level, the Cambiemos alliance led the way in the country’s five largest provinces, with a population of 41 million.

“This change is not that of a government, but the one desired by the Argentines,” Macri told his jubilant supporters.

“What is done seriously, does not give results overnight,” he added to the Argentinian who suffer from inflation and unemployment. About one-third of the population lives in poverty.

The focus was on the province of Buenos Aires, which ranges from the suburbs of the capital to the plains of the Pampas, the country’s main electoral reservoir, with nearly 40% of voters. And on the score that Mrs. Kirchner.

Despite the accusations of corruption targeting her, Cristina Kirchner, 64, made a very good score at the head of the formation she created two months ago. She is a senator.

The former president (2007-2015) gathered 34% of the votes, just less than the candidate of the power, Esteban Bullrich (34.3%), according to almost 90% of the votes counted.

Many polls in recent weeks put her in front of the rather charismatic Esteban Bullrich.

Once elected Senator Kirchner would enjoy parliamentary immunity. The former lawyer could be tried and convicted but not imprisoned for several years. She was charged with corruption during her two mandates as head of Argentina.

The mid-term legislative elections of October 22 will be the first electoral test of magnitude for the Macri government, which seeks to strengthen itself in the parliament, where it does not have the majority in either of the two chambers. Sunday’s primaries highlighted the lack of structured opposition at the national level.

In the capital Buenos Aires, Elisa Carrio, the candidate supported by the Argentine president, has 48% of the vote and an ally of the government, Martin Loustau, 13%.

Macri, 58, has been in power since December 2015 and has launched a series of unpopular economic reforms designed to reduce a high budget deficit, improve competitiveness and attract foreign investment.

The Argentine economy, the third in Latin America, is showing signs of recovery in recent months, but this does not affect the daily life of the Argentines.

The list for Senate led by Carlos Menem, 86 years, in the province of La Rioja, was placed at the top by the voters. The electoral authority had ordered the invalidation of the former president’s candidacy, under a seven-year prison sentence, but too late to print new ballots.

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