Argentina's 2023 General Election
On October 22, Argentinians will vote for a new president who will be in charge of the nation for the next four years. A candidate can win the presidency in a single round by either winning 45% of the vote, or if they win 40% of the vote while finishing 10% points ahead of the second-place candidate. If no candidates met these criteria, a second round takes place between the top two candidates.
The 2019-2023 term was marked by political unrest, inflation running at more than 100% and dwindling dollar reserves, local currency has suffered a sharp depreciation in the financial markets and sovereign bond prices have plunged. All this context makes a very challenging term for the next candidate to take over the presidency in Argentina
We present the main contenders we believe have more chances in the next election.
Javier Milei (La Libertad Avanza)
Milei does not have a career politician. He led his libertarian group, La Libertad Avanza, to a surprisingly strong showing in Buenos Aires in 2021, when he was elected a federal congressman.
The fact that both former president Mauricio Macri center-right government and the current leftist Andres Lopez disappointed the population for the past eight years provides opportunity for an outsider who seems to have a simple rhetoric and is skilled at conveying his message via social media.
Milei`s base of support is concentrated among young people and it runs across social classes and includes lower-income sectors, which is new, since these sectors are used to supporting Peronism.
Milei advocates for minimal state intervention and the elimination of taxes and currency policies. His party opposes social movements and demands like feminism, climate activism, indigenous rights and social welfare programs
He proposes to dollarize the economy, privatize state companies, charge for public hospital services, introduce a school voucher system and pension cuts.
Sergio Massa (Frente Renovador)
Massa, a former lawyer, served as the mayor of the city of Tigre and then President Cabinet Chief. He ran for president in 2015, finishing in third place. In July 2022, President Fernandez named him economy minister in the hope that he would have the credibility to help the economy.
Support from a united Peronist bloc is crucial for his campaign. Massa has support from moderates within and outside of Peronism who favor more liberal economic policies. His voters are concentrated in urban areas and favor their pragmatic and technocratic leadership.
Massa would maintain the program Argentina signed with the IMF as well as the good relationship he has established with some in the private sector. He may continue some of the limited austerity measures and price controls he implemented as minister. Massa might continue his plans to deepen regional economic integration between Argentina and Brazil.
Horacio Rodriguez Larreta (Propuesta Republicana PRO)
Larreta started working in government in the 1990s. He co-founded PRO and was the party’s campaign director through 2011. Larreta was elected as mayor in 2015 and reelected in 2019.
Larreta received praise for his leadership during the pandemic and for large-scale infrastructure and transportation improvements in Buenos Aires.
Larreta’s support base is strongest in Buenos Aires and other urban areas. He is campaigning as a moderate and skilled Alliance-builder who says he has made Argentina`s capital cleaner, safer, and more efficient.
Larreta’s plans are based on three pillars: education, labor and security.
- Employment: The creation of a new law that reduces the penalties for informal work and that extends the trial period from three to six months and hiring for one year under a simplified regime. He proposes giving independent workers access to birth leave and work risk insurance.
- Educational: Guarantee school days, infrastructure, internet connectivity and English from primary school.
- Security: Combat drug trafficking through the creation of an elite corps, as well as strengthening the police forces.
Patricia Bullrich (Propuesta Republicana PRO)
Bulrich is known as one of the more conservative figures within the PRO party, which she has led since 2020. She served for several years in the lower house of Congress and one year as minister of labour in the early 2000s. She also was a minister of security between 2015-2019.
Bullrich is seen as different, without being too radical. Her tough decisions on security policies have increased her popularity within the opposition. The fact that Macri’s decision to not run for president this year stands to benefit her. Macri’s followers are likely to support a conservative candidate like Bullrich.
Bullrich’s voters tend to be higher-income and older and she also has support among social conservatives.
She has proposed the simultaneous use of peso and the U.S. dollar, and said she would reduce taxes and seek free trade agreements within the Mercosur area.
If elected, she has promised iron-fisted security policies and a tough stance on protest.
There is no clear favorite to win the presidency and many Argentinians remain undecided. The elections are still open leaving room for last minute shifts within top contenders.
We would likely only consider buying Argentinian securities closer to the election, when the risks become clearer, or we may wait until right after the election. Elections not only in Argentina, but in the rest of the Latin America countries, have created strong swings in the markets - a characteristic we`ve seen over the years.
This opinion article was written by: Mauricio Alvarez, Portfolio Manager of OTG Latin America Fund.