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Political plunge: Argentine peso, stock exchange plummet after crushing Macri vote defeat

Political plunge: Argentine peso, stock exchange plummet after crushing Macri vote defeat

Argentina's beleaguered peso currency collapsed on Monday and inflation was expected to rise as voters flirted with a return to interventionist economics by snubbing market-friendly President Mauricio Macri for the opposition in Sunday's primary vote.

Argentina's opposition grabbed momentum in the run up to the October presidential election by beating the ruling party by a larger-than-expected margin in Sunday's key PASO primary vote. The vote, however, is an opportunity to poll voters and determine potential front-runners in the future race.

Opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez, whose running mate is former president Cristina Fernandez, beat Macri by a wider-than-expected 15.5 percentage points with almost 48% of votes, with 99% of ballots counted after Sunday's primary.

With 87 percent of polling station results counted, Fernandez had polled 47.5 per cent with Macri on a little more than 32 percent and centrist former finance minister Roberto Lavagna a distant third on just 8.3 percent.

The severity of market reaction was expected to depend on the margin between Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Macri, and whether the victor netted enough votes to indicate a potential win in the first round of the presidential election in October, Mr. Reckman said.

To win outright on October 27, the top candidate must receive 45 percent of valid votes, or 40 percentof them with a 10 percentage point difference from the second-placed contender.

"We always fix the problems that others create", said Fernandez to thousands of cheering supporters in Buenos Aires on Sunday night. We know the commitment we are making with it, and the reality is that Argentina finally heard our message, he noted.

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An acute financial crisis previous year hit the peso and forced Macri to take the International Monetary Fund loan in return for pledging to balance Argentina's deficit.

Kirchner imposed strict currency controls that slammed investment during her 2007-2015 administration. She now faces multiple corruption probes. Macri said he hoped to reverse the negative results from the primary.

Argentina is in a deep recession, and inflation for the first six months of the year is at 22%.

Poverty now affects 32% of the population.

Backed by the IMF, Macri has initiated an austerity plan that is deeply unpopular among ordinary Argentines, who have seen their spending power plummet.

The peso lost half its value against the dollar a year ago. Investors nonetheless see the Fernandez/Kirchner duo as a riskier prospect than free-markets advocate Macri.


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