Argentina’s Midterm Election Vote Seen Weakening Government

Argentines voted Sunday in midterm elections that are poised to weaken the ruling coalition’s power in congress.

Alberto Fernandez speaks to members of the media after casting a ballot during the midterm elections in Buenos Aires on Nov. 14.
December 28, 2021 | 10:54 AM

Bloomberg — Voters are picking half of the seats in the lower house and a third of the senate in a critical test for the government of President Alberto Fernandez. It lost the majority of races in a September primary vote, exposing a deep divide with Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her hard-left wing of the coalition.

Polls closed at 6pm local time, with local networks reporting they expect results similar to the September primaries, based on early exit poll data. Interior Minister Eduardo de Pedro said results would be disclosed after 9pm, adding that about 72% of voters cast ballots, with a few provincial races affected by rain storms.

The key races are in the city and province of Buenos Aires, where the government’s Frente de Todos squares off against its main rival, the investor-friendly coalition of former President Mauricio Macri, Juntos por el Cambio.

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Fernandez isn’t on the ballot, but the vote will serve as a way for Argentines to weigh in on his term amid annual inflation of more than 50%, increasing poverty and lack of access to debt markets.

Fernandez, who cast his ballot Sunday morning at a university in Buenos Aires, said in a radio interview he has no plans to make changes in the government following the results. “Tomorrow we will continue governing and working to solve people’s problems,” he said in a tweet.

Still, Sunday’s results stand to impact the makeup of Fernandez’s cabinet, economic policy, the coalition’s fragile unity and Argentina’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over more than $40 billion in debt it owes to the Washington-based organization.

Argentines confidence in the government is at its lowest since 2014dfd

Argentines’ confidence in the government is at its lowest level of Fernandez’s presidency as the country’s economic performance adds to coalition infighting and disillusionment over the handling of the pandemic, which included a vaccination scandal and an infamous birthday party held despite mandatory lockdown.

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What Bloomberg Economics Says

“The vote will influence the balance of power within the government coalition. Should the results undermine President Alberto Fernandez’s bloc, it may also weaken Economy Minister Martin Guzman’s negotiating stance with the IMF.”

-- Adriana Dupita, Latin America economist

All eyes will be on the reaction of Kirchner, who herself governed the nation from 2007 to 2015 with anti-business policies and slammed the president’s muted response following the poor showing in the September primary vote.