Time is ticking away, with two weeks to go before the elections in a country where many people’s greatest concern is how to pay the rent and make it to the end of the month.
Six candidates will fight it out at the ballot box on 27th October, the election date for a country in crisis — though two distinctly different national models hold the greatest chances of getting to direct Argentina’s destiny.
The die is cast, the countdown has begun, and the two main opponents, President Mauricio Macri and opposition candidate Alberto Fernández, have their eyes on the elections which will likely decide between them.
Argentina, a country that is visibly divided along political and social lines, faces the final phase in the elections to select the president, vice president, various provincial public officials or governors, and renew half of the Congress.
With the challenge of drawing the country out of recession and eye-watering debt, with growing inflation and an increase in those unemployed and in poverty, the decision of whether to continue with the status quo or to turn a new page will be in the hands of the nearly 34 million citizens with voting rights.
From the proposed presidential tickets, to the pairings for the Governor’s post in key provinces like Buenos Aires (which has the largest number of inhabitants and voters), there are generational grouping which range from 39 years to over 70 in the list of candidates aiming for the Casa Rosada.
The result of the Primary, Open, Simultaneous and Obligatory elections (PASO, in the Spanish acronym) last August gave a real snapshot of what could happen at the ballot box, with a large number of Argentinians punishing President Macri for his anti-popular policies.
Here are all six combinations: Macri and Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto (Juntos por el Cambio); Fernánadez and former president Cristina Fernández (Frente Todos); former Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna and Governor of Salta, Juan Manuel Urtubey (Consenso Federal); and MPs Nicolás del Caño and Romina de Plá (Frente de Izquierda-Unidad).
There is also former Falklands War military combatant, Juan José Centurión and lawyer Cinthia Hotton (Frente Nos); and the liberal José Luis Espert and journalist Luis Rosales (Frente Despertar).
But, as the forces that received the most votes in the primaries, two conflicting pairings are leading in these elections: on the one hand, Macri’s ruling party, and on the other the Alberto Fernández-Cristina Fernández duo.
After their resounding victory last August, the Fernández-Fernández combination, are leading the latest polls around the country, with over 47%.
For his part, Macri is giving it his all around the country, proclaiming all he has done thus far, and assuring that “another stage, a stage of growth” is coming.
But he knows things are tough, after the catastrophe he experienced following the primaries, when the dollar crashed, making the national peso plummet further, and raising the negative statistics of his mandate, including the number of people in poverty.
Many people, especially those in the most vulnerable situations, have suffered greatly during the economic adjustment; salaries are not rising, and paying the rent and buying food is becoming impossible.
Meanwhile, Alberto Fernández, the former head of Cabinet during Néstor Kirchner’s four-year mandate (2003-2007) and the first year of Cristina Fernández’s term (2007-2008), together with the main opposition figure, is calling for unity to get Argentina back on its feet. They claim that their proposals are intended to create a just project, with room for everyone.
Alberto Fernández has a clear message: get Argentina back on its feet and fight for a federal country, with social justice and equality, and without hunger. And he says: “Now is the time to stand up and achieve the Argentina we all deserve”.
There is another option within this big political map. Considered the third option, with more possibilities, the Lavagna-Urtubey combination seeks to distance itself from the two former branches, and defines itself as “building a political space that seeks to redefine federalism in Argentina”. (PL)
(Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay