Politics, Americas

Argentines head to polls Sunday in midterm elections

Around half of lower house seats, one-third of Senate’s up for grabs.

Bala Chambers   | 14.11.2021
Argentines head to polls Sunday in midterm elections

LONDON

Argentina heads to the polls Sunday to cast ballots in the midterm legislative elections – with congressional seats up for grabs.

The ruling Peronist coalition, Frente de Todos, is hoping to perform better than their poor performance in September's primaries.

If similar results are repeated, it could affect the ruling coalition's Senate majority.

Around half the seats in the lower house chamber of deputies, 127 of 257, are in the running, alongside a third of the Senate’s 24 of 72 seats.

If the ruling coalition fails to perform well, they risk losing the ability to push through key legislation.

Polling stations are set to open from 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. - with results announced around 9 p.m.

Argentina is currently experiencing economic difficulties with high inflation and the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.

President Alberto Fernández finished campaigning Thursday with Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. He insisted his coalition have listened to citizens' expectations after the primary defeat and that Argentina is progressing with a strategy to address national production and employment.

The president urged citizens to help him "build the dream of experiencing the Argentina that we deserve" - with a speech focusing heavily on economic recovery, vaccination rates and condemning the opposition.

Opposition Juntos por el Cambio finished campaigning Thursday with candidate Diego Santilli, describing the vote as an opportunity to "discuss what country we want - if we want a country with progress or stagnation, if we want freedom or oppression.”

Santilli added: “We asked the government for a job and they gave us a small amount of money, as if they could buy our dignity,” referring to social welfare spending after the defeat in the primaries.

The far-right is looking to cement a presence in the political arena. Ultra-conservative candidate Javier Milei is seeking to capitalize on perceived social discontent with suggestions he may gain a seat in the chamber of deputies.

If so, it would be the first time a far-right candidate has done so since Argentina returned to a democracy in 1983, following a military dictatorship.

Observers suggest the midterm elections will likely follow September's primary results where the ruling coalition lost across most districts.

Turnout was around 67%.

In total, 15 districts fell to the opposition Juntos por el Cambio and seven to Frente de Todos.

Following the defeat, Frente de Todos reshuffled its Cabinet in a bid to quell tensions within the coalition, as former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner appeared to lash out in a public letter at the president's perceived errors -- largely related to fiscal policies.

A midterm defeat would likely affect Fernandez's plans for the second half of his term.

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