President Mauricio Macri suffered a heavy defeat in Argentina’s primary
elections (Paso) on 11 August. With neither Macri nor Alberto Fernández,
the presidential candidate of the main opposition, facing an internal party
rival, the Paso was in theory no more than a dress rehearsal, to gauge voter
sentiment, ahead of the first round proper on 27 October. But in practice,
with Fernández achieving a victory margin in excess of 15 percentage
points, the Paso result goes far beyond psychological relevance. The main
index of the Buenos Aires stock exchange, Merval, collapsed and the peso
went into freefall at the prospect of radical Peronism returning to power.
This will compound Macri’s difficulties between now and the first round,
leaving him with acute governability problems on top of trying to mount
an improbable electoral comeback. Such is the magnitude of the challenge
facing Macri that it is now easier to see him failing to complete his term in
December than securing re-election.