Argentines voted on Sunday in legislative elections in which the ruling party is exposed to losing control of Congress, which would condition the two years of mandate remaining for President Alberto Fernández.
The polling stations closed their doors at 6:00 p.m. (2100 GMT) on a day in which they will be elected 127 national deputies throughout the country, which represents half of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 24 national senators in eight provinces, the equivalent of a third of the upper house.
The first official results are expected to be known from 21:00 (2400GMT).
The ruling Frente de Todos – made up of different currents of Peronism and other progressive forces – currently controls the Senate and is the first minority in Deputies. But if, as the polls predict, the center-right opposition coalition Together for Change prevails in most districts, the ruling party will be forced to negotiate each initiative that it sends to Parliament.
“It is almost certain that such a result would relegate Alberto Fernández to the status of ‘lame duck’ for the rest of his term,” predicted Jimena Blanco, director of research and risk analysis for the Americas at the Verisk Maplecroft consultancy.
Most analysts predict a “punishment” vote against the Fernández government for the deepening of the economic crisis and unstoppable inflation.
Poverty affects more than 40% of about 45 million inhabitants – among children it exceeds 50% -; unemployment is close to 10% and inflation in October was 3.5% compared to the previous month, accumulating 41.8% in the year. Argentina ranks as the second country in the region with the highest increase in the cost of living after Venezuela.
Support for the government has also diminished due to the succession of cases of insecurity, scandals that plagued Fernández during the new coronavirus pandemic -such as the violation by him and those close to him of the sanitary restrictions- and the public disagreements between the president and his vice president and ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015).
By relativizing the adverse effects that the results of the elections may have on his government, Fernández affirmed after casting his vote that “tomorrow is Monday and Argentina continues and we must continue working to build the country that we need to build.”
Then he said in journalistic interviews that Argentines “simply determine how Deputies and Senators are composed” and that In the event that the result is not as expected for the government, it does not plan to make changes in the cabinet.
In 2019 Fernández de Kirchner promoted the presidential candidacy of Fernández, who managed to unite behind him different currents within Peronism, until then divided, to prevent the reelection of conservative president Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).
Two years later that electoral front creaks due to the differences between the Fernándezes precisely because of the course of economic policy and the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with which the government must renegotiate a loan of about 45,000 million dollars granted to the country in 2018.
An electoral defeat by a wide margin is likely to further cool the bond between the two main partners of the Frente de Todos, although most experts do not foresee a definitive break.
“It is premature to think of a division; they need each other. Alberto cannot continue with only a weak cabinet and Cristina cannot disregard either, because he showed that he is as responsible as he is for this situation, “Mariel Fornoni, director of the Management & Fit consultancy, told AP.
Roberto Bacman, head of the Center for Public Opinion Studies (CEOP), pointed out that the ruling Peronism will have to find “its own internal mechanism to define the course, the economic plan” and how the debt refinancing is resolved. with the IMF.
At the same time, a comfortable victory will unleash in the opposition a struggle between its main referents in the face of the presidential elections of 2023, which will also influence the parliamentary negotiations with the ruling party.