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Argentina’s Opposition Leader Macri Wins Buenos Aires Election

Buenos Aires mayor and opposition leader Mauricio Macri was re-elected yesterday after defeating in a runoff President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s candidate three months before she seeks a second term.

Macri had 64.3 percent support with 99.2 percent of polling stations reporting, compared with 35.8 percent for Senator Daniel Filmus, the city’s electoral commission reported last night.

“I don’t promise miracles, I can’t make them, but I do promise you work, a lot of work with honesty,” said Macri in a televised speech in Buenos Aires. “I’m very happy with this victory because it’s the victory of a way to do politics.”

On July 10, Macri fell short of the 50 percent of votes needed to win the first round, taking 47.1 percent of ballots followed by 27.8 percent for Filmus.

During Macri’s four years in office, the former president of the Club Atletico Boca Juniors soccer club and son of a construction tycoon has retained support among the capital’s 2.5 million voters by funding flood prevention works, creating a city police force, and building 65 kilometers (40 miles) of bike paths.

“People see Macri as an active person, someone who accomplishes things and cares about the city,” said Analia del Franco, a political analyst at Analogias pollster in Buenos Aires.

Yesterday was the second time the two candidates faced off for control of City Hall. Macri, 52, took office in 2007 after beating Filmus by a margin of 20 percentage points. The 56-year-old Filmus served as Education Minister for Fernandez’s deceased husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner.

The vote comes a week after the defeat of another candidate allied with Fernandez, 58, when the socialist party retained the governorship of the agricultural province of Santa Fe. Miguel del Sel of Macri’s PRO party came second, while the contestant from Fernandez’s Victory Front, Agustin Rossi, finished third.

Winning Chances

Still, the defeat in Santa Fe and in the city of Buenos Aires won’t hurt Fernandez’s chances of winning a second term in Oct. 23 elections, said del Franco.

“When the opposition has triumphs like these it gets stronger, but it won’t have an impact on the presidential election,” del Franco said.

South America’s second-biggest economy is heading for a ninth straight year of economic growth and will expand 6.3 percent this year, according to the median estimate of seven economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

While inflation ran at 23 percent over the past 12 months according to private estimates that more than double the government’s 9.7 percent reading, Fernandez remains popular among Argentines benefiting from job growth. The unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent in the first quarter from 8.3 percent in the same period of 2010.

‘Economic Stability’

“Even when the economy is not at its peak, people still see economic stability,” del Franco said.

Fernandez has 49.8 percent support among voters, followed by Ricardo Alfonsin of the Radical Civic Union party with 10.5 percent, according to a June 22-24 poll by Buenos Aires-based CEOP Opinion Publica. The survey of 1,426 people has a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.

Under Argentine law, a presidential candidate can win the election and avoid a runoff by receiving more than 45 percent of the vote, or 40 percent and a 10 percentage-point lead over the nearest competitor. A second-round runoff, if needed, would take place Nov. 20.

Macri ruled himself out as a presidential candidate on May 7, when he announced he would seek re-election as mayor. His PRO party hasn’t said whom it will support in the national vote.

Last night, Macri said he is willing to meet with all presidential candidates, including President Fernandez, to listen to their proposals.

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