BUENOS AIRES, Argentia, Washington Post — The Peronista ticket of Alberto Fernández and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner defeated President Mauricio Macri in the first round of Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday, a rejection of austerity of the sort that have sparked violent protests elsewhere in Latin America.
The left-leaning Kirchner, a former two-term president who ran as vice president to Fernández, is the target of nearly a dozen corruption cases. But she is popular among the poor and voters outside Buenos Aires, and right-leaning Macri’s fiscal reforms failed to deliver the solid growth he promised.
“I want to congratulate president-elect Alberto Fernández,” Macri said in an address to supporters shortly before 10:30 p.m. He said he had invited his successor to breakfast at Casa Rosada, the executive mansion.
“We need an organized transition,” Macri said. “The only important thing is the future of the Argentines.”
Several South American countries have erupted in violent protest over the question of fiscal austerity versus government largesse. On Sunday, this nation of 44 million put it to a vote.
The choice was stark: Stick with the austerity program of Macri or return to the social spending of Kirchner and the Peronistas.
When Macri took office in December 2015, he said his pro-market reforms would bring immediate and solid economic growth for 20 years. But at the end of his four-year term, poverty has increased by some 10 percentage points, annual inflation is over 50 percent and the public debt is equal to 100 percent of GDP, on the verge of default.
Argentina has the third-largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico.
With more than 92 percent of Argentina’s polling desks counted Sunday night, the Fernández-Kirchner ticket led Macri and running mate Miguel Ángel Pichetto, 47.9 percent to 40.6 percent. The leaders needed to win with at least 45 percent of the vote in the six-candidate field to avoid a head-to-head runoff election next month.