The battle to decide who will rule crisis-torn Argentina is headed for a runoff next month between leftist candidate Sergio Massa and far-right libertarian Javier Millay, according to data released by Argentina’s National Electoral Chamber after the first round of voting on Sunday.
After the polls closed, Massa received the most votes with 8,877,325, accounting for 36.33% of the total, data revealed. Milei received 7,373,876 votes – approximately 30.18%.
Third-place candidate Patricia Bulrich received 23.82% and conceded defeat late Sunday night.
Each is fighting for the nation’s trust at a time of widespread disillusionment with the country’s elite and its governance of the country.
The results highlighted a strong showing for the government coalition supporting Massa, who is currently economy minister, as Argentina faces its worst financial crisis in two decades.
Voter turnout was over 75 percent, with more than 25 million Argentines voting and more than 90 percent of votes counted, the electoral body said.
“It was an exemplary day of Argentine democracy,” Julio Vitobello, secretary general of the presidency, told a news conference Sunday evening.
Inflation in Argentina has soared to 138%, Reuters reports, putting pressure on ordinary people trying to manage living costs.
“It’s so hard. Every day things cost a little more, it’s like you’re always racing against the clock, looking and looking,” Laura Celiz told the news agency last month while shopping on the outskirts of the capital, Buenos Aires. “You buy whatever is cheaper than one place and you go to the next place and buy something else.’
After voting in Buenos Aires on Sunday, incumbent President Alberto Fernandez celebrated the nation’s democracy on social media platform X.
“I call on every Argentine to defend her and decide the future of the country in the elections,” he wrote.
Bulrich, a former security minister, told CNN en Español that she would let economists run the finance ministry and offer a firm, calm hand on the wheel compared to Miley’s outbursts.
Boasting years of experience in national politics, she has recently worked to refresh her image to appeal to younger voters, uploading viral challenges to YouTube and mentioning in interviews her relationship with her cousin, the singer Fabiana Cantillo.
Massa, who is in the current government, balances a heavy ministerial portfolio, including inflation control, soybeans (the country’s main export) and Argentina’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund.
He is trying to position himself as a more pragmatic voice on the left compared to the current government coalition and is working to distance himself politically from Argentina’s senior vice president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner – without alienating her power base.
Unlike his main rivals, political upstart Millay offers little experience in governance and promises to overturn Argentina’s existing economic structures. For his supporters, Miley’s promises of an overhaul have been alluring.
Millay, a former financial analyst and self-described “anarcho-capitalist” who spins a chainsaw at rallies, proposed a number of radical changes: dollarizing Argentina, cutting public subsidies and abolishing ministries of culture; education; environment; and women, gender and diversity.
To win in the first round of voting, a presidential candidate must receive more than 45% of all votes, or a minimum of 40% and at least a 10-point lead over the second candidate.
Argentina’s next president will take office in December and begin a 4-year term.