Argentina’s presidential election headed for a runoff

Argentina’s presidential election will almost certainly go to a a runoff, after the first round of voting failed to produce a clear winner.

With just over 77 percent of precincts reported, Change Together candidate Mauricio Macri is in a statistical tie with Front for Victory’s Daniel Scioli, with both holding just over 35 percent of the counted ballots. United for a New Alternative’s Sergio Massa looks like he may actually expand on his performance in the primary, and currently stands at just over 21 percent. These results represent a major surprise, as Scioli carried nearly 40 percent of the vote in the primary election held in August and was expected to emerge with a similar majority.

Mauricio Marci (left) and Daniel Scioli (right), via Wikimedia Commons

Mauricio Marci (left) and Daniel Scioli (right), via Wikimedia Commons

These results also amount to a major rebuke for outgoing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her Front for Victory party, whose administration has been marred by scandal and economic stagnation. Not only did her preferred successor, Daniel Scioli, fail to secure the necessary 45 percent (or 40 percent with a ten point lead) plurality to avoid a runoff, but her party lost the election to succeed Scioli as governor of the Buenos Aires province. That province holds 37 percent of the country’s overall population.

Analysts expected many who supported Massa in the primary to defect to one of the two frontrunners — to Macri due to his opposition to the incumbent party, or to Scioli due to their parties’ common Peronist identity. While Macri looks like he picked up a fair share of voters who preferred minor party candidates in the primary, Massa maintained enough momentum throughout the campaign to hold on to his supporters and expand his anti-Kirchner, pro-Peronist base.

That the question is not whether Scioli will win by enough to avoid a runoff, but is rather whether he will eke out a narrow plurality win in the first place, should give Macri a major boost heading into the runoff campaign, which will be held on November 22nd.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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