Argentinians are voting on a cliffhanger election risking the economy

Argentinians began voting on Sunday for a way out of a crippling economic crisis. Sergio Massa and free foreigner Javier Miley.

The two men represent starkly different futures for Latin America’s third-largest economy, Cric under triple-digit inflation and poverty levels of more than 40 percent.

Polls show the candidates in the heat, with Miley holding such a small lead that no one wants to predict an outcome.

Some 36 million Argentines can vote until 6:00 pm (2100 GMT), with results expected a few hours later. The new president will be sworn in on December 10.

Massa, 51, a charismatic and experienced politician, is trying to convince Argentina to trust him despite his performance as economy minister, where annual inflation has reached 143 percent.

His rival, Miley, is an anti-establishment outsider who has vowed to end Argentina’s uncontrolled spending, ditch the peso for the US dollar and “dynamite” the central bank.

Argentinians are “on the verge of a nervous breakdown,” said Ana Ibarraguire, a political analyst at GBAO Strategies, describing tensions about what comes next.

Most are so disgusted with their options that “they must choose the lesser of two evils.”

Polls show 10 percent of voters are still undecided and turnout is crucial as the election looms over a long weekend.

“Both candidates don’t have good proposals. I voted for whoever would do the least damage to a country in a very difficult situation,” said Laura Coleman, a 25-year-old nurse.

– Miley puts down the chainsaw –

Miley, a 53-year-old economist, is a political newcomer who stunned onlookers after leading the race a few months ago.

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He is often compared to former US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, two politicians Massa has accused of aping by raising the threat of electoral fraud – for which he has provided no evidence.

Millay’s rants against traditional parties that have failed to stem decades of economic decline have fired voters fed up with the status quo.

Daniel Ayala, a 50-year-old taxi driver, said he was fed up with the corruption of the ruling Peronist coalition, saying, “I hope Miley wins.

In the first round of elections in October, Massa upset the polls by coming in first with nearly 37 percent of the vote, while Miley got 30 percent.

Both are vying to win millions of votes from the three losing candidates.

Patricia Bulrich, the third-place candidate from the powerful center-right opposition party, has thrown her weight behind Millay.

Miley has toned down his rhetoric to appeal to his more moderate voters, appealing to the public not to succumb to fears fueled by Massa’s campaign.

“If you’re afraid you’re going to be paralyzed, nothing’s going to change. We’re not going to privatize health care and education, and we’re not going to allow unfettered access to guns,” he said.

He previously said he would drop those ministries entirely and favor making it easier to carry guns and sell human organs.

In recent weeks, there was no sign of him using the chainsaw he used at rallies.

– Quiet alternative –

Massa represents the Peronist coalition, a populist movement that runs heavily on state intervention and welfare programs that has dominated Argentine politics for decades.

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He has sought to distance himself from deeply unpopular outgoing President Alberto Fernandez and his Vice President Cristina Kirchner, who were accused of fraud last year. Both have disappeared from public view.

Massa tried to portray himself as the calm, statesmanlike opposite of Mili.

However, analysts accuse him of misusing state resources to boost his electoral chances.

These included using ads to warn that transit fares would rise under Miley, and cutting income taxes for nearly the entire population and giving millions more cash payments.

– ‘Incredibly Deep Hole’ –

Regardless of who wins, analysts warn Argentina will be in for a tough road ahead.

Analysts say a devaluation of the tightly controlled peso is long overdue, and shortages of dollars have led to shortages in fuel, medicine and bananas in recent weeks.

With central bank reserves in the red and no debt line, the next government will “dig Argentina out of an incredibly deep hole,” said Benjamin Keden, director of the Argentina program at Washington-based Wilson. Center.

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