- Title: Macri urges Argentines to stay the course amidst election showdown
- Date: 9th August 2019
- Summary: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (FILE - 2018) (REUTERS) PERSON COUNTING ARGENTINE PESOS VARIOUS, EXCHANGE RATES ON SIGNS IN FRONT OF EXCHANGE HOUSES IN BUENOS AIRES BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (FILE - NOVEMBER 2013) (REUTERS) VARIOUS, PEOPLE AT CHECK-OUT COUNTER AT SUPERMARKET HANDS OF BUTCHER CUTTING MEAT CUSTOMER COUNTING MONEY TO BUY MEAT MORENO, BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE, ARGENTINA (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS, WAREHOUSE WITH GAS TANKS BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (FILE - JUNE 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS, BUSES AT BUS STATION PEOPLE GETTING ON BUS
- Embargoed: 23rd August 2019 04:46
- Keywords: President Mauricio Macri election conservative Argentina Buenos Aires rally
- Location: MORENO AND VICENTE LOPEZ, BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE + BUENOS AIRES + UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, ARGENTINA / WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A.
- City: MORENO AND VICENTE LOPEZ, BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE + BUENOS AIRES + UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, ARGENTINA / WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A.
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA007ARCX0EF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Incumbent President Mauricio Macri rounded off his election campaign in Buenos Aires on Thursday (August 08), calling on Argentines to stay the course with his free-market policies and avoid a return to the past under populist-leaning candidate Alberto Fernandez.
Argentine voters go to the polls on Sunday (August 11) for primary elections, with voters facing a stark choice between market-friendly incumbent Mauricio Macri and Fernandez.
Macri, backed by the International Monetary Fund, has been pushing a tight economic programme to rein in debt levels, while hiking interest rates to bolster a weak peso currency that lost half its value against the dollar last year.
This approach has seen praise from voters wanting to get the country's economic credentials back on track. Whilst others have lambasted the policies for exacerbating poverty and a recession in Latin America's third-largest economy.
Fernandez and his running mate, militant populist ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, are less favoured by markets, concerned they could usher in more interventionist policies. The two are unrelated.
The son of one of the most powerful businessmen in Argentina, Macri took the presidency in 2015 with a centre-right alliance that said it would shake up the political status quo and right the economy by creating more transparency and opening the country to international markets.
Despite his market-friendly credentials, his popularity with voters has been hit hard, however, by an economic crisis that has seen the peso plunge and annual inflation at above 50%.
Macri has struggled to tame inflation during his first administration, but is pushing to reduce the country's fiscal deficit to address the issue. He has also been tightening monetary policy with an austerity package that has at times been hard for the population to swallow.
The market-friendly leader views free-trade agreements as a key objective and a way to improve exports and growth. He recently celebrated the Mercosur South American trade bloc striking a deal with the European Union.
In rare good news, late last month the government reported Argentina's economic activity rose for the first time in over a year in May. The 2.6% rise versus the same month a year ago topped even the most optimistic estimates from analysts polled by Reuters, and broke a run of 12 consecutive months of falling economic activity.
With less than a week to voting day, polls agree the election will be a close-run affair that will likely go to a second round in November. A survey from consultancy Management & Fit suggested Macri would edge out Fernandez in a run-off scenario. Other polls, however, give Fernandez an edge head-to-head.
(Production: Miguel Lo Bianco, Juan Bustamente)
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