Argentina’s ruling coalition suffered its biggest political defeat in two years in office after a primary election that saw the opposition winning most districts, putting the government of Argentine President Alberto Fernandez under pressure.
The opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio unexpectedly won the key district of Province of Buenos Aires, which accounts for more than one-third of the nation’s electorate, by 4.4 percentage points with 97 percent of the votes counted.
On a national level, the opposition leads by twice that margin in the race for the lower house and by almost 16 percentage points in the Senate, according to a tally compiled by newspaper La Nacion.
Photo: AFP / Argentina’s Presidency / Esteban Collazo
The primary vote to pick candidates ahead of a midterm election on Nov. 14 reflects voters’ growing discontent over Fernandez’s COVID-19 pandemic strategy, rising poverty and annual inflation that has surged to 50 percent.
His coalition lost congressional battles in districts typically favorable to the Peronist government, such as La Pampa, Chubut, Chaco, Tierra del Fuego and Santa Cruz.
In a speech on Sunday night, Fernandez acknowledged the defeat and promised to work on reversing the results.
“Evidently, there’s something we didn’t do right to get people to give us their support as we wished they had,” Fernandez said at his party’s campaign headquarters in Buenos Aires. “The campaign has just begun and we still have two months. We need to win it.”
With mandatory voting for most adults, the primary effectively serves as a nationwide opinion poll ahead of the midterm election, when half of the lower house seats and one-third of the Senate are on the ballot.
“The chances that this produces Cabinet changes before Nov. 14 have grown significantly with these results,” said Lucas Romero, director of consulting firm Synopsis Consultores.
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