Argentina could take another sharp political turn in vote

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Argentina could take another sharp political turn in yesterday’s presidential elections, with centre-left Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández favoured to oust conservative incumbent Mauricio Macri amid growing frustration over the country’s economic crisis.

Macri was elected president in 2015 as Argentines rejected a successor chosen by former President Cristina Fernández, who is now running as vice president on the Peronist ticket with Alberto Fernández. The two are not related.

A victory by the Fernández ticket would mark another political swing in South America, which has seen conservative governments elected in Brazil, Colombia and Chile in recent years. Cristina Fernández was considered part of the “pink tide” of leftist governments that arose in the region in the 1990s and 2000s.

Now the region is being rocked by unrest in Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador fuelled by discontent over corruption, inequality and slowing growth.

Poverty under Macri has soared, the value of the local currency has sharply depreciated and the inflation rate remains among the highest in the world.

Frustration over the economy has eroded support for the pro-business former mayor of Buenos Aires. It has also propelled the candidacy of Alberto Fernández, whose surge has sent jitters in the financial markets over a possible return to interventionist polices of Cristina Fernández’s 2007-2015 administration.

Macri’s camp has tried to capitalise on that unease, portraying her as a puppet master waiting in the wings. But the presidential candidate has dismissed those fears and voters gave him a decisive victory over Macri in August primaries, which are a barometre of support for candidates ahead of the presidential election.

“I don’t see a conflict there,” Alberto Fernández said recently in an interview with The Associated Press. “Argentina’s problem is not Cristina. It’s what Macri has left behind.”