Argentina heads to the polls. What's up for grabs?

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 7, 2019 - Duration: 02:00s

Argentina heads to the polls. What's up for grabs?

Argentina will go to the polls for primary elections on Aug.

11 ahead of the national ballot in October, seen as a referendum on the austerity politics of center-right incumbent President Mauricio Macri amid a tight economic malaise.

Francis Maguire reports.

Argentina heads to the polls. What's up for grabs?

Election fever builds in Argentina, As it readies for Sunday's primary elections ahead of October's presidential ballot The vote is effectively seen as a referendum on incumbent Mauricio Macri's austerity politics - and Argentina's economic malaise.

Macri's main challenger is Peronist rival Alberto Fernandez - supported by, although not related to Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

As president from 2007 to 2015, she rolled out heavy subsidies, higher taxes on farm exports and currency controls.

Views mixed on the streets of Buenos Aires about who to support.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOCAL, GUILLERMO PARODI, SAYING: "I am voting for Macri and not Fernandez, because I believe if Cristina returns it will be a problem, because it won't be Alberto's government.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BUSINESS OWNER, GUSTAVO PRESARAS, SAYING: "Although the Macri campaign doesn't have a concrete proposal that could make one say they're okay, I will vote for him because I like him." Few in Concordia - Argentina's second poorest city - expect their living conditions to change radically whatever happens this Sunday.

Argentina has faced a series of economic crises over many decades...causing recession and high interest rates.

Poverty is the result for many.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESEARCHER FROM THE ARGENTINE OBSERVATORY OF SOCIAL DEBT, A THINK TANK AFFILIATED WITH ARGENTINA'S CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY, EDUARDO DONZA, SAYING: "According to our calculations, poverty has reached a level close to 35% of the population, taking into account the official survey, the permanent household survey of the first quarter of the year 2019." President Macri has pushed an IMF-backed economic programme to rein in debt levels, while hiking interest rates to boost a weak peso currency.

It may work for the IMF - which approved a $57 billion financing agreement last year.

Sunday's ballot may tell Macri whether it works for Argentina's voters too.

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