Argentina's presidential race is headed toward a runoff after Sunday's elections delivered unexpected results, proving the country's voters may be more open to a regime shake-up than expected.
Buenos Aires mayor and candidate for the We Can Change Party Mauricio Macri delivered a surprising performance at the polls Sunday, garnering enough votes to force a run-off election with Daniel Scioli, governor of the Buenos Aires province and candidate for the Front for Victory Party -- and current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's hand-picked successor.
Under Kirchner's mandate, Argentina's economy has flailed, and the country is in deep need of serious measures to resolve its problems.
With more than 97% of votes counted, Macri received 34.33% of the vote compared to Scioli's 36.86%. To win the presidency, a candidate needs to garner 45% of the vote or at least 40% with a 10% lead on the runner-up.
The run-off election between the two will be held on November 22, and with Sunday night's results still rolling in, both candidates are already sprinting toward the finish line.
One major factor moving forward will be what happens to the votes cast to the third-place finisher, Sergio Massa of the UNA Party, who received 21.34% of the vote. Both candidates are widely expected to seek an alliance with Massa to secure the backing of his supporters, and Macri appears to have made the first move.
Argentine news outlet La Naciónnoted that at a Monday press conference Macri gave a not-so-subtle nod to Massa's camp, emphasizing the importance of a dialogue with others who had participated in the election to "maximize matches." A separate news publication, Clarín, pointed toward a greater probability that Massa would align with Macri over Scioli on Monday. It is worth noting, however, that both have anti-Kirchner leanings.
Another issue that may come into play ahead of the next round of voting: the fact that November 22 falls on a long weekend. Monday, November 23 is a holiday (National Sovereignty Day). Affluent Argentines -- who are more likely to be Macri supporters -- are more likely to travel that weekend and therefore might not show up to the polls.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.