Ten days to go till Argentina's presidential elections on October 25, and while the Frente para la Victoria candidate Daniel Scioli is leading the polls, the big question is whether he will win outright or be forced to face a run-off election.
To win in the first round, Scioli -- who has the support of outgoing President Cristina -- must obtain over 40 percent of the votes and have more than a 10 point lead over his closest rival. (Or get over 45 percent of the total of votes.)
The polls are too close to predict. One of the latest, published this weekend by Poliarquía Consultores has Scioli at 37.1 percent and his closest rival, the conservative mayor of Buenos Aires city Mauricio Macri, at 26.2 percent. Scioli has more than a ten point lead (though barely) but falls short of the 40 percent threshold he needs to avoid the run-off. But a handful of undecided voters or changed minds could take the election one way or another, explains the conservative La Nación.
A separate poll by Enrique Zuleta Puceiro's OPSM has similar numbers: placing Scioli at 38.4, Macri at 28.8 and Massa at 20.5, reports Perfil.
Left-leaning Página 12 published a round up of nine different pollsters this weekend, and says it's possible that Scioli will win in the first round, but that there's disagreement among the experts. On average they say Scioli is near 40 percent, Macri is somewhat below or around 30 and Massa will come in just above 20.
And it's worth noting that while Scioli is a clear front-runner in the first round, it's less clear what would happen in an eventual second round, in which the two runners up have over fifty percent of the vote between them. Página 12 notes that it's difficult to poll such a run-off before voters actually know for a fact that it will happen.
The two runners up, Macri and Sergio Massa (a small locality in the outskirts of greater Buenos Aires city) are fighting for the so-called "useful" or "serviceable" vote, people who are seeking to use their vote to defeat Kirchner's dauphin rather than in favor of a specific candidate. Massa, who has approximately 20 percent of the vote according to the last Poliarquía poll is making the (somewhat desperate) case that only he could eventually beat Scioli in an eventual run-off election. While Macri makes the case that voting him will ensure a run-off and the possibility of beating Scioli.
An interesting Reuters piece notes the conundrum Scioli finds himself in: much of the widespread support he enjoys is because of Kirchner's support, but in order to win over more votes, he must distance himself from the President and convince voters he is not a puppet. Throughout the campaign he has balanced promises to maintain the Kirchner legacy of social programs and workers' rights, while also nodding to pro-business sectors who want to see policies to spur economic growth. He says his policy of "gradual change" will draw investment worth $30 billion annually and warns the rapid changes proposed by Macri would drive Argentina into a recession.
For those who just can't get enough (which could only refer to those living outside of Argentina, those of us who are here have been bombarded with the topic for the better part of the year) La Nación has an exhaustive (and exhausting) coverage, including maps with primary election results,fact checking of candidates' statements and opinion pieces.
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