Opposition wins Argentina’s presidential election

Pro-market conservative challenger Mauricio Macri wins presidential election in Argentina

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Mauricio Macri, presidential candidate of the Cambiemos (Let's Change) coalition, celebrates with his wife Juliana Awada (behind, in white) after the presidential election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 22, 2015.

Argentina’s conservative presidential challenger Mauricio Macri won the runoff elections comfortably against his rival Daniel Scioli on Sunday.

Macri ended over a decade of leftist populism and promised to open up the ailing economy to investors.

New-elected president Macri pledges to liberalize Latin America’s third biggest economy, fight corruption and to end President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s protectionist policies.

Nearly completed count of the polls reveals that Macri won 51.5 percent of votes and his rival Scioli got 48.5 percent of votes.

The supporters of Macri in Buenos Aires already began celebrating their victory in the streets of the capital city, waving Argentine flags, singing and chanting. 

Supporters of presidential candidate Mauricio Macri of Cambiemos (Let's Change) wave Argentine national flags as they celebrate in front of the Buenos Aires Obelisk, November 22, 2015 / Photo by Reuters

"This is the beginning of a new era that has to carry us toward the opportunities we need to grow and progress," Macri told supporters at his headquarters.

As two-term mayor of the capital Buenos Aires, Macri won a victory many believed to be quite impossible.

Thus, 12 years of Peronist government of Cristina Fernandez and her husband Nestor Kirchner, who took power in 2001-2002, promising to deal with Argentina’s economic crisis came to an end. 

The Peronist movement started in 1943 when Juan Peron participated in a military coup and became minister of labour and adherent of the populist and nationalistic policies.

Months before the elections, opinion polls showed that 56-year-old son of an Italian-Argentine construction magnate, Macri had trailed his rival because Scioli painted him as a neoliberal who would place the interests of big business before labourer.

Argentina's ruling party presidential candidate Daniel Scioli and his wife Karina Rabolini gesture after he acknowledged his defeat in the run-off presidential election in Buenos Aires, November 22, 2015 / Photo by Reuters

However, Macri won the first round of voting in September with swing voters who supported his "Let's Change" alliance.

"There's been so much corruption and the economy has been poorly managed," said Romina Casela, 41, who swung behind Macri for the second round. "I believe Macri will be an honest politician."

Macri, before entering Congress and later heading of City Hall, was the president of Argentina’s most popular football team Boca Juniors.

His win may send shockwaves through South America's other left-leaning governments, such as Venezuela and Brazil, which are also grappling with the end of a decade-long commodities boom and accusations of financial mismanagement.

TRTWorld and agencies