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ARGENTINA | 11-07-2019 12:00

Campaigning heats up with signs of highly polarised, personal election

President Macri's official coalition launch event dominated by references to inheritance left by Fernández de Kirchner administration.

The 2019 general and presidential elections in Argentina look set to play out on highly polarised and personal terms, after candidates this week set the electoral tone across a variety of media appearances.

Macri, flanked by his running mate Miguel Ángel Pichetto, officially launched his Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change) coalition's campaign on Wednesday, with a presentation that alluded to the types of comparisons he will try to draw between him and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is running as vice-presidential candidate alongside Frente por Todos candidate Alberto Fernández.

"Four years ago we received a country that had been devastated," he said, while insisting he and his team are "ready to govern for four more years."

During his first term, he added, "Argentina had broken its international isolationism."

The head of state described 2018, when the Argentine economy slumped due to a run on the currency, "was the worst year" for him personally.

"I would go to bed every day wondering how to keep us from falling into a crisis like the one we experienced in 2001," he told the crowd.

The president also had words of praise for Senator Pichetto.

"In the difficult months we experienced in 2018, when struggled to find financing and we suffered a hard drought, Pichetto in the Senate prioritised governability, responsibility and patriotism. That's something I value very much," Macri said.

Pichetto spoke before Macri, expressing his "pride and commitment" in accompanying the president.

"In this election, we're making a choice about how Argentina should be, if it will be democratic or authoritarian, if it will be open or closed to the world."

Not returning to the past is a key message among Macri and his allies, which lawmaker Máximo Kirchner this week described as a "dirty tactics campaign."

"The governor has shown her propensity to lie," Kirchner charged, in reference comments made by Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal. 

"However, there's nothing to worry about because despite this governor being prepared to lie, Axel [Kicillof, Kirchnerite candidate for governor of Buenos Aires Province] is prepared to govern and this is a huge difference," he added.

At the ruling coalition's launch event, Vidal lambasted Kicillof, suggesting the City-born economist had no connection to the province.

"In these elections, we're choosing whether we return to the past, even if in the present we're seeing new faces," Governor Vidal said.

"Argentina is facing its most important election since the return of democracy in 1983," she declared.

Argentines will go to the polls on August 11 to vote in primaries races. Political campaign spots on broadcast media begin this weekend.

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