Argentines are voting in a presidential election that might see a far-right populist leader, who has vowed to overhaul the Latin American country’s ailing economy, emerge victorious.
Polling stations opened their doors at 8am local time (11:00 GMT) and are expected to accept voters until 6pm local time (21:00 GMT), with results to come by late Monday.
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During Sunday’s ballot, voters are also selecting members of the Congress and provincial governors, specifically 130 lower house representatives and 24 national senators.
Decades of economic decline and record inflation have propelled libertarian outsider Javier Milei, the 52-year-old far-right populist leader of the Liberty Advances party, to the front of a tight race.
The eccentric economist and first-year lawmaker, who has described himself as an “anarcho-capitalist”, had emerged as an unexpected frontrunner in the August primary election.
Milei has been compared to controversial leaders like Donald Trump in the United States and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and has been winning support among some Argentinians by promoting radical policy changes.
Voters are angry at traditional parties for failing to address the Latin American nation’s ailing economy for decades.
Milei has mostly focused on the economy, which experts agree is perhaps the most severe challenge facing Argentina right now, with inflation standing at a whopping 138 percent in September and only expected to grow by the end of the year.
Proposal to eliminate the central bank
To fix the economic issues, Milei has proposed eliminating the central bank, replacing the local currency with the US dollar as Ecuador and El Salvador have done, and slashing public spending.
He has also promised cultural reforms as he has presented himself as an opponent of socialism at home and abroad, and is a staunch critic of abortion, which he has described as “murder” even though it was legalised by the country’s Congress in 2020.
Milei’s main rivals are Patricia Bullrich, a 67-year-old former security minister who is the candidate for the centre-right Together for Change coalition, and Sergio Massa, the 51-year-old incumbent economy minister who represents the governing Peronist coalition.
To win the presidential election, a candidate must secure 45 percent of the vote, or 40 percent plus a 10-point lead over their closest competitor.
Pre-election polls give Milei the best chance of winning, but they have proven notoriously unreliable in past elections.
So, it is possible that there will be two winners, which would force a second round of voting in November.
A new president and vice president are expected to take office on December 10.
Source: Al Jazeera