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10/06/2007 | President's Ally Faces Run-Off in Argentine Capital's Election

Global Insight Staff

President Néstor Kirchner received a boost yesterday in the Buenos Aires mayoral election as his Education Minister Daniel Filmus squeezed into the run-off to compete against centre-right Mauricio Macri, who emerged the clear victor of the first round with some 45% of the vote.

 

Global Insight Perspective

 

Significance

Centre-right legislator Mauricio Macri, manager of the popular Boca Juniors football club, secured more than 45% of the vote in yesterday's mayoral election for the capital, Buenos Aires, opening the way for a heated run-off with government-backed Education Minister Daniel Filmus, who came second with 23.77%.

Implications

Filmus reaching the second round amounts to a mini victory for President Néstor Kirchner, thereby avoiding an embarrassing setback in one of the most important electoral districts of the country.

Outlook

The run-off in three weeks' time will be a battle of two opposing governmental visions and a testing time for Kirchner and his government—their fight will be a tough one as Macri has emerged as the capital's preferred choice.

As expected, centre-right legislator Mauricio Macri came out on top, amassing an impressive 45.62% of the vote, in yesterday's mayoral election for the capital, Buenos Aires. Falling short of securing the 50%-plus-one vote needed to win the polling battle outright, Macri is now heading for a run-off in which he will face government-backed Education Minister Daniel Filmus, who came second with 23.77%. With polls depicting a tight battle between Filmus and incumbent mayor Jorge Telerman (who gained 20.77%) to reach the second round behind Macri, Filmus's run-off bid is seen as a success for President Néstor Kirchner, who avoids an embarrassing defeat ahead of October 2007's presidential race. Filmus is by no means favourite to win the run-off, and Macri's first-round score attests to the task ahead. All attention now turns to the second round, where a win by Macri is expected to have detrimental repercussions for the president's October race. All candidates have campaigned heavily on security, education, and infrastructure issues, the top concerns of those living in the capital.

The Right Again in Neuquén

While all eyes were focused on the capital, the province of Neuquén also elected a new governor. The right imposed itself once again in a dynastic-like vote, with Elías Sapag, nephew of the several-time governor Felipe Sapag, winning the election for the right-wing Popular Neuquén Movement (MNP) founded by the family. The provincial vote, however, lacks the national dimension of the Buenos Aires election—and both the MNP and personal affiliations have a distinct part to play in Neuquén.

Outlook and Implications

Buenos Aires is the second-largest electoral district after the eponymous province, and manages the third-largest budget in the country (behind those of the federal government and Buenos Aires province). With the federal government playing a key part in some policymaking, many see the vote as a plebiscite for Kirchner's administration. Indeed, the president's direct involvement in the race has made this assumption even easier to make. While the importance of the Buenos Aires vote is highlighted, this importance is still somewhat limited. The capital, as a richer and more populous metropolis, does not have the same priorities or political leanings as the rest of the country. As such, this election is a test for Kirchner, but if he fails the test, it will by no means reverse his (or his wife's) current position as the leader in nationwide opinion surveys. It would undeniably complicate his electoral bid, but with approval ratings still above 50%, greater setbacks would be needed to bring them down to the level of his current major opponent—and former economy minister—Roberto Lavagna.

As for Macri, the ascent of his profile as a leader of the opposition, which began a few years back, is undeniably confirmed. It is widely expected that his mayoral bid is a prelude to a wider presidential one in 2011. His first-round showing is nothing but a success for the opposition, and a blow to the government. The two camps now competing in the second round stand for opposing and antagonistic governmental manifestos. According to La Nación, the third-placed Telerman will announce in a few days' time who he intends to endorse in the second round. Filmus would welcome his support, with more than 22 percentage points separating him from Macri. The coming three weeks will be a key battle between the opposition and the government, with Macri incontestably emboldened by his first-round performance.

www.globalinsight.com

Global Insight (Reino Unido)

 


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