The first round of elections in Argentina has concluded, with polling stations closing at 6 PM local time. Voter turnout was at 74%, an increase compared to the mandatory primaries held on August 13th. Over 35 million Argentines were called to the polls to elect the President of the Republic, who will remain in office until December 2027. The vote will also lead to the renewal of a portion of the national Congress, with 130 deputies and 24 senators representing eight provinces. The main contenders for victory are the ultra-liberal Javier Milei of La Libertad Avanza (Lla), the progressive Peronist Sergio Massa of Union por la Patria (Uxp), and the conservative Patricia Bullrich of Juntos por el cambio (Jxc).
Milei dreams of winning in the first round
Milei has the dream of winning the Presidential election in the first round. The political outsider in Argentina has promised to “put an end to the entire corrupt and useless political caste”. And to “shut down the central bank”, basing the state’s economy on the American dollar. The ultra-liberal, who considers climate change “a Leftist hoax“, has declared that he is capable of “defeating the political caste in the first round” with his “liberal project on a national scale.” Milei also aims to cut off the flow of state subsidies by privatizing hospitals, schools, and transportation.
Elections in Argentina. What do the polls say?
Despite Milei’s proclamations, the outcome of the election is far from certain. According to polls, the progressive Peronist Sergio Massa of Union por la Patria (Uxp) and the conservative Patricia Bullrich of Juntos por el cambio (Jxc) are closely trailing him with narrow percentage margins.
The role of undecided voters
According to pollsters, the votes of undecided voters, estimated to be between 10% and 12%, will be the deciding factor. To win the Casa Rosada (the presidential palace), a candidate will need to secure 45% of the vote, or even 40% with a 10% lead over the second-place candidate. Otherwise, a runoff will be held on November 19, one month from now.
Why Milei is on the rise
As analysts explain, Milei’s rise can be understood in the context of a country in the midst of a deep economic crisis, with inflation skyrocketing to 140% and a political class accused of driving Argentina to the brink.
Milei describes them as a “thieving caste” that needs to be dismantled. To emphasize this, he has appeared at his rallies wielding a chainsaw. His ideas have also found international supporters. Accompanying him during the vote count at the Sheraton Libertador Hotel in Buenos Aires will be representatives from the Spanish Vox party and Eduardo Bolsonaro, one of the sons of the former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.