Argentina – Center-Right Challenger Mauricio Macri Wins the Run-Off

On the pages of this blog just over three weeks ago, Ezequiel González Ocantos and Luis Schiumerini, two great colleagues of mine here at Oxford, wrote an incredibly detailed post that deconstructed the first round of the recent Argentine presidential elections. Their insightful analysis suggested that the days of Peronism in Argentina could be numbered. They contended that the main non-Peronist challenger to the presidency, Mauricio Macri, as a result of a combination of factors, including his strategic move to the center and the deteriorating economic situation, combined with his morale boosting first round victory, may have been enough to lure discontented voters from the camp of Sergio Massa (the third placed candidate in the first round election) and win the presidential run-off election on November 22.

Their analysis has proven rather prescient. Last Sunday, Macri, the non-Peronist challenger of Cambiemos, a largely centrist coalition comprising the vestiges of the long-standing Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), Macri’s own political party, Propuesta Republicana (PRO), and the Coalición Cívica, defeated Daniel Scioli, the chosen successor of the current Peronist incumbent, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Macri, the outgoing Mayor of Buenos Aires and his vice-presidential running mate, Marta Gabriela Michetti, won the election with 51.4 per cent of the votes in the run-off. With a solid 80 per cent turnout (approximately 25 million voters), Macri has a mandate for change.

There are a number of reasons for Macri’s victory. A proper analysis can be found in the post by Ezequiel and Luis but in short, they suggest Macri’s electoral success is rooted in his emergence as a credible political challenger, which was only bolstered by his first round victory, and his pragmatic move to the center and promise to maintain the most popular statist policies of the incumbent, combined with “the increasing doubts about Scioli’s ideological commitment to either Kirchnerism or anti-Kirchnerism, corruption scandals, and a series of events that underscored the deterioration of the economic situation,” all of which enabled Macri to successfully persuade Massa voters to support him.

One thing is for sure. This is a change election. It is the first time since 1999 that a non-Peronist candidate has won the presidency and it will be the first time since 2001 that a non-Peronist has held the presidency. Of course, Macri faces a number of formidable challenges, not least of which include the legacies of Kirchnerist polarization and the current economic situation, but change does seem to be in the air. Shortly after his election, Macri gave a news conference, a practice that had largely disappeared under the presidency of Cristina Fernández.

For a proper and full analysis of this election and the electoral data however, I guess I will just have to very nicely ask Ezequiel and Luis to write a follow-up post.

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