Alberto Fernandez, the centre-left opposition candidate in the race for Argentina’s presidency, has defeated the incumbent President Mauricio Macri in the first round of balloting, according to preliminary vote tally.
Fernandez of the Justicialist Party on Sunday earned about 47.8 per cent of the vote with 95 per cent of precincts reporting, beating Macri of the centre-right Republican Proposal Party, who garnered 40.8 per cent, a slightly better result than the polls had anticipated, Efe news reported.
“You know that until December 10, Macri is still the President. We’re going to collaborate in everything we can, because the only thing we’re concerned about is that Argentines stop suffering once and for all,” Fernandez addressed a crowd on Sunday.
Fernandez was elected after surpassing the threshold of more than 45 per cent of the vote needed to avoid a second round of balloting which was scheduled for November 24.
In Argentina’s two-round system for choosing the President, the run-off is only triggered if no candidate manages to earn either at least 45 per cent of ballots or 40 per cent with a 10-point lead over the runner-up.
“I want to congratulate President-Elect Alberto Fernandez, I’ve just spoken to him for the great election campaign he’s led and invited him for breakfast tomorrow (Monday) at (the Presidential Palace) because he needs to start the transition process,” Macri told his supporters on Sunday.
The remaining candidates had a far smaller share of the vote, according to the preliminary results. Independent Roberto Lavagna obtained 6.2 per cent, followed by Nicolas del Cano of the Workers’ Left Front (2.1 per cent), former Army officer Juan Jose Gomez Centurión of the right-wing NOS Front (1.7 per cent) and free-market enthusiast Jose Luis Espert of the Unite for Freedom and Dignity party (1.5 per cent).
Fernandez, whose running mate for Vice President is former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (in office between 2007-15), was the clear favourite in the run-up to the ninth presidential election held since the South American nation transitioned to democracy.
In the primary elections held in August, the Justicialist duo trounced Macri and his running mate, Miguel Angel Pichetto, by a 16-point lead.
Macri’s popularity had been steadily declining over the past year as his administration was hampered by the country’s ongoing economic crisis.
Voter turnout stood at about 80.8 per cent. In Argentina, voting is compulsory for citizens between the ages of 18 and 70. Suffrage was recently extended to 16- and 17-year-olds, though they are not compelled to vote until they come of age.
This preliminary tally is supervised by the Interior Ministry, meaning it is official but lacks any legal validity.
The definitive results will be confirmed by an electoral tribunal following a formal tally set to begin on Tuesday.