Juntos por el Cambio mayoral candidate Jorge Macri registered a big victory in Buenos Aires City on Sunday night but fell agonisingly short of an outright win in the first round.
Macri, 58, easily won the race for mayor and his triumph was a rare bright note for Argentina’s main opposition coalition on election night, an evening that saw its presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich decisively eliminated from the race for the Casa Rosada.
The Juntos por el Cambio hopeful had 49.61 percent of votes with 98 percent of polling stations reporting on Monday morning. Trailing him in second place was Unión por la Patria candidate Leandro Santoro on 32.2 percent.
With less than two percent of ballots still to be tallied on Monday morning, libertarian Ramiro Marra of La Libertad Avanza was in third with 13.89 percent, ahead of left-winger Vanina Biasi of Frente de Izquierda y de Trabajadores-Unidad with 4.28 percent.
Though the count is still ongoing and his lead of 300,000 votes can still be improved upon, Macri’s total count will not allow him to pass the 50 percent threshold and therefore the race to succeed Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta in December will go to a run-off.
Macri – who is part of the PRO party founded by his cousin, former president Mauricio Macri – will be the strong favourite to extend the opposition’s control of the nation’s capital in the second-round vote on November 19.
Speaking from the opposition coalition’s election night bunker in Parque Norte, the former Vicente López mayor expressed confidence he would be elected.
"According to our information, we have a good chance of winning in the first round, but we have to wait, step by step. The official count shows 49 and growing,” said Macri, who is a government minister at City Hall.
He was accompanied onstage by his cousin, Rodríguez Larreta, running-mate Clara Muzzio, former Buenos Aires Province governor María Eugenia Vidal and other party leaders.
In second place was Santoro, who scored a respectable 32 percent in the capital, an often hostile electorate for the ruling Peronist coalition.
"We realise that this is a historic election for our force but it’s also very tight in terms of defining the numbers. There was a much higher ‘blank vote’ [ballots not backing a candidate] than in the election for president of the nation. This has to do with the confusion that arose in the voting booth with the [system of] two ballots," complained Santoro, referencing voters who had to include national and local papers.
According to him, "the tightness of the numbers will force us to wait until the final count, which will surely be in the next few days.”
Governors elected in Catamarca and Entre Ríos
Along with Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof’s sweeping re-election win on Sunday night, there were two other key gubernatorial races.
In the first to declare, Catamarca Province Governor Raúl Jalil was re-elected by a wide margin for another term running until 2027.
The Unión por la Patria incumbent, running for the ruling Peronist coalition, had 53.69 percent with 84 percent of votes tallied and a lead over libertarian rival José Jalil Colome of of almost 30 points. The La Libertad Avanza candidate had 24.46 percent, a few points above Juntos por el Cambio hopeful Flavio Sergio Fama on 21.84 percent.
Jalil, speaking to supporters in the province, thanked them for their support in "his last election as a provincial candidate" and called on them to back Massa in the presidential run-off "for the good of northern Argentina."
"Thank you very much to the people of Catamarca, to the activists from our political space and the others," said the re-elected governor.
In a much closer race, the opposition emerged victorious in Entre Ríos Province, with former national government minister Rogelio Frigerio winning the gubernatorial race and ending two decades of Peronist control in the region.
Frigerio, a former member of Mauricio Macri's government between 2015 and 2019, had 41.63 percent of the vote with 97 percent of polling stations reporting, against 39.16 percent for Adán Bahl, mayor of Paraná and candidate for Más para Entre Ríos. La Libertad Avanza’s Sebastián Etchevehere came third with 19.59 per cent.
Frigerio's narrow win ends a 20-year run of Justicialist governors in the province and was the second major victory for Juntos por el Cambio on election night.