Almost half of the seats in the Lower House are up for grabs in this Sunday’s election, as well as a third of the seats in the Senate in a mandatory vote for more than 34 million voters. The risk for the Government of President Alberto Fernández – if his party loses these elections – which is very likely given the results of the September primaries, is the loss of its majority in the Senate and of its first minority position in the Chamber. of Deputies.
A crucial day for Argentine President Alberto Fernández and his ruling Frente de Todos party, as Argentines go to the polls in mid-term legislative elections.
The polls opened this Sunday at 8:00 a.m. (local time) and will close at 18:00. According to the Government, responsible for the provisional scrutiny that will take place tonight, the first official results will be known at 9:30 p.m.
In September, the Frente de Todos suffered a resounding defeat in the primaries, when it only obtained 33% of the votes, compared to 37% of the right-wing opposition alliance Together for Change, of former President Mauricio Macri.
In these elections that are carried out for the second half of Fernández’s term, “If the results of the September primaries are repeated, it will be difficult for the government (of the president) and the Peronist coalition Frente de Todos to maneuver in Congress, ”Explained Natalio Cosoy, correspondent for France 24 from Buenos Aires.
“(Frente de Todos) could lose its own quorum in the Senate chaired by Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and cease to be the first minority in the lower house,” he clarified.
Analyst Gabriel Puricelli, from the University of Buenos Aires, told the AFP press agency that if the government coalition loses the majority it has had in the Senate for almost 40 years, the opposition “will probably use” its power to block the legislature. .
The ruling party would then be forced to negotiate and seek concessions for key laws or appointments.
The reasons for the discontent and September defeat
Most polls predict a damaging defeat for the Frente de Todos after its popularity was hit hard by the closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic; the inflation spiral and a currency that continues to fall to record lows against the US dollar.
“I support any other party that has the possibility of strengthening the opposition,” Nicolás Corzo, 40, a worker in the financial sector in Buenos Aires, told Reuters news agency.
And it is that – partly because of the health crisis – the current government has not managed to recover the country from the recession inherited from the previous administration of Mauricio Macri.
Since last year, GDP fell 9.9% due to the pandemic and the South American nation now finds itself with a poverty rate that reaches 42% of a population of 45 million inhabitants.
An election below 35-30% for the ruling party “would redefine the entire game of political identities that, for decades, have been referenced around their presence (of CFK): their own, allies, recovered enemies and rivals forever” .https://t.co/6HESF2iuFw
– Natalio Cosoy (@nataliocosoy) November 12, 2021
Since the setback of the September primaries, the government has been trying to limit the damage, announcing for example last month partial and temporary agreements with retailers to control the prices of about a thousand basic products after protesters took to the streets to protest, among other things, against food insecurity.
The country also announced in September an increase in the minimum wage to 31,104 pesos ($ 316).
But analysts doubt these last-minute measures are enough to defuse electorate frustration and reverse voting trends predicted by polls.
In this apparently unfavorable climate, the ruling coalition has nevertheless managed to mobilize its supporters. Unions and social organizations announced that they will march in support of Fernández on Wednesday, regardless of the results this Sunday.
Yanina Cabral, 34, who runs a pastry business in the city of Santa Rosa, told Reuters she would stay with the Peronists. “My vote is for the ruling party. I come from a Peronist family and I see that the party is doing things well,” he said.
The consequences of an eventual failure on the Fernández government
A major defeat would weaken the president as pressure mounts to reach a new deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to refinance $ 45 billion in debt payments that the country, the world’s leading grain producer, cannot. front facing.
It could also trigger a cabinet reshuffle, as the results of the primaries did, and divide the government between moderate factions and more left-wing factions.
Four districts will be key because they are the most populated in the country: the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santa Fe and the Argentine capital.
But many eyes will be on the province of Buenos Aires, a traditional stronghold of the Peronists, including Fernández’s party, but where Macri’s Juntos made great strides in September.
Reuters, Efe, AFP