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ARGENTINA | 01-09-2023 15:30

PASO primaries: Final count narrows gap between Milei, Bullrich and Massa

Election authorities issue final vote count from August 13 primaries; Difference between top three coalitions trimmed to just 2.58 points; La Libertad Avanza on 29.86%, Juntos por el Cambio on 28% and Unión por la Patria on 27.27%.

The final count from Argentina’s presidential primaries for the upcoming October 22 elections has narrowed the gap between the three main coalitions, who cumulatively won 85 percent of the votes.

The new figures, issued by the election authorities on Thursday, show that just 2.58 points separate La Libertad Avanza, Juntos por el Cambio and Unión por la Patria. Analysts, who have been for weeks stating that Argentina is facing a ‘three-thirds’ scenario, had warned that the three coalitions could end up closer than previously assumed.

The data confirms that libertarian outsider Javier Milei and his party finished first, taking 29.86 percent (7,352,244 votes) of ballots cast. 

In second is the main opposition coalition led by Patricia Bullrich, who defeated her primary rival, Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. Juntos por el Cambio in total received 28 percent (6,895,941 votes).

In third place is Unión por la Patria with 27.28 percent (6,719,042 votes). Economy Minister Sergio Massa is the victor from the ruling coalition’s presidential primary, seeing off challenger Juan Grabois.

Blank votes were cast by 5.5 per cent of the electorate and 1.2 percent of voting papers were spoiled.

The final count reduced the percentage provisionally attributed to Milei, who was initially put on 30.04 percent. The new tally will be a boost for both Bullrich and Massa, raising their hopes that they can overtake the outspoken libertarian in the October election. 

Milei, without presenting evidence, has consistently claimed that he was “robbed of five points” in the provisional tally.

"The calculations are around four or five points. That is to say, we would have won 35 percent of the votes: if we improve the supervision [by election monitors] and manage to convince more people to vote, we will be in a position to win in the first round," Milei said in a recent interview.

Parties need to reach a threshold of 1.5 percent in the primaries in order to qualify for the election proper and the new data indicates that two other coalitions have also made the cut.

Also exceeding the legal minimum were the ‘third way’ option, Hacemos por Nuestro País, led by non-ruling coalition Peronist and Córdoba Province Governor Juan Schiaretti, on 3.71 percent and left-wingers Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores-Unidad, who took 2.61 percent and will be represented by lawmaker Miriam Bregman.

Argentines go to the polls in just over seven weeks to vote for their next president. To win the election, a candidate must obtain 45 percent of the vote or more than 40 percent with a 10-point difference over their nearest rival. Otherwise, the top two candidates go to a second-round run-off, which is due to take place on November 19.

The Simultaneous and Compulsory Open Primary Elections (PASO), as the primaries are officially called, registered a turnout of 69 percent – the lowest since they were held in 2011, when 78.6 percent voted.

The nationwide primaries decide which candidates for president, national lawmakers, provincial and municipal authorities will run for office.

Absenteeism reached 31 percent of the total electoral roll of 35.8 million. In total, 1,356,480 blank votes were cast and 309,807 invalid votes were registered.

 

– TIMES/NA/AFP

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