Argentina’s Midterm Elections Shake Up the Political Landscape

Argentina’s Midterm Elections Shake Up the Political Landscape
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez leaves a poll station after casting his vote in the midterm primary election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Marcos Brindicci).

If there is one constant in Argentina’s merry-go-round of political and economic crises, it is the presence of outsize personalities, high drama and policy failures. The results of Sunday’s midterm congressional elections suggest that this cycle is unlikely to be broken any time soon. The election didn’t just throw the system into disarray. It also introduced the latest entrant to Argentina’s pantheon of flamboyant politicians: the wild-haired, far-right economist Javier Milei, who saw his fortunes soar, giving credence to his plan to seek the presidency in 2023.

The immediate impact of the Nov. 14 elections was that the center-left Peronistas, led by President Alberto Fernandez and Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, suffered severe losses. For the first time in four decades, the Peronistas lost control of both houses of the National Congress. Also remarkable was the strong performance of the Trotskyist Leftist Workers Front, or FIT, which managed to capture 6 percent of the national vote, the third-largest share. 

Amid growing frustration with an economic crisis made much worse by the coronavirus pandemic, the top vote-getter was the center-right opposition coalition, Together for Change. Despite being trounced at the polls two years ago, Together for Change won most of the key legislative races Sunday, positioning itself for the 2023 presidential election. Some of its prominent figures, including former President Mauricio Macri and Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, are considering a run at the top job in that race.

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