Latin America President-elect Fernandez Meets Macri As Argentina Faces New Future

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Above Photo: Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and running mate former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner celebrate after election results in Buenos Aires, Argentina Oct. 27, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Regional presidents were quick to recognize Alberto Fernandez’s victory and send messages of congratulations.

Argentina’s President-elect Alberto Fernandez arrived at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires on Monday for a meeting with outgoing incumbent Mauricio Macri where the two are expected to discuss the potentially tricky transition of power as financial markets watch closely.

Peronist Progressive Fernandez swept into power on Sunday, ousting conservative leader Macri in an election result that shifts Latin America’s No. 3 economy firmly toward the left amid swirling economic crisis and rising debt fears.

Fernandez faces a major challenge to revive Argentina’s economy, mired in recession for much of the last year, while fending off a rising mountain of debt payments amid concerns the country may be forced into a damaging default.

Investors, who have been following the twists and turns of the election closely, will now be on the lookout for signs from Fernandez about his likely economic policies and the make-up of his economic team.

The Argentine peso opened 0.4 percent stronger on Monday. Just before local markets opened, traders said Argentina’s central bank was set to auction US$50 million at 59.999 pesos per dollar to help stabilize the currency.

Argentinians find the country headed in a likely different direction after the almost four-years of Macri, who pushed for pro-market neoliberal policies that spearheaded an economic crisis for the past two years.

“The truth is that I am happy with the change, we did not want to keep going with the same government and hopefully things change a bit now for everyone because it was bad,” said Ramora Perez, 61, in Buenos Aires.

On Monday, markets and the peso were mostly muted, helped in part by the conciliatory tone between the two candidates and their meeting, as well as tighter controls on currency brought into effect in the early hours of the morning.

Argentine officials are preparing for tough negotiations with creditors over US$100 billion in sovereign debt that has become painfully expensive for the country.

As the candidates needed 45 percent of the vote to avoid a second round, the 47 percent obtained by the Fernandez-Fernandez ticket has been enough to give them the win.

With almost 90 percent of votes counted, Argentinian opposition progressive ticket Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner have won over right-wing incumbent President Mauricio Macri with 47,75 over 40,76 percent respectively in Sunday’s general elections.

As the candidates needed 45 percent of the vote or 40 percent with a 10-point lead over the runner-up to avoid a second round, the 47 percent obtained by the Fernandez-Fernandez ticket has been enough to give them the win.

“If the result were to stay as it is, that would mean Fernandez would be sworn in as president,” Argentinian Political Analyst Atilio Boron told teleSUR.

The ballot was effectively a referendum between Macri’s austerity and the “social contract” of the left-leaning opposition, who have attracted voters who have been hurt badly by the Macri’s neoliberal model that led to the most severe economic crisis in decades.

Argentina’s choice could have far-reaching implications: it is one the world’s top grain exporters, is stirring the energy world with its huge Vaca Muerta shale field and is on the cusp of restructuring talks with creditors over US$100 billion in debt.

Fernandez, a relative unknown until this year outside Argentine political circles, holds a 20-point lead in most opinion polls after thumping Macri in an August primary.

The economy has taken center stage with the country in the grip of recession for most of the last year, the outlook for growth darkening, annual inflation over 50 percent, job numbers down and poverty up sharply.

The conservative incumbent won backers with plans to reform Argentina’s notoriously closed economy with trade deals and a successful push to lure foreign investment into energy projects and infrastructure.

Voters also chose presidential candidates, along with deputies, senators, governors and local leaders. While, the Front of All candidate for governor of Buenos Aires’ province, one of the most important of the country and key for general elections, also won with over 10 points over Macri’s candidate Maria Eugenia Vidal, as the latter conceded late on Sunday.