Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, the handpicked protege of opposition leader Mauricio Macri to succeed him as mayor of Buenos Aires, won with a much closer margin than expected in a run-off on Sunday.
Larreta defeated Martin Lousteau of the ECO alliance by 51.6 percent against 48.4 percent with 99.9 percent of votes counted, according to the city government. Most polls published last week showed Larreta with a 10 percentage point margin. The victory extends the hold of the Republican Proposal party, or PRO, on the capital for another four years after Macri served two terms.
The outcome may not give Macri the boost he expected heading into presidential primaries Aug. 9, where he’s looking to expand his support to challenge Daniel Scioli, the front-runner and member of the ruling Victory Front party. The result may also give Sergio Massa, who is third in polls ahead of Oct. 25 nationwide elections, a chance to challenge Macri for opposition votes.
“When you think you’re going to win by ten points then this can feel like a defeat,” Rosendo Fraga, director of political consultancy Nueva Mayoria, said in comments on TN. “Scioli will think this result favors him, Massa will think this favors him.”
Scioli, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s candidate to succeed her, had 36.9 percent of intended votes against 31.6 percent for Macri in a Management & Fit poll taken June 22-26. Massa, a former cabinet chief in Fernandez’s government who broke away to form a dissident Peronist movement, had 12.1 percent. The nationwide survey of 2,400 people had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
Mariano Recalde, the ruling FpV’s candidate for mayor of Buenos Aires, failed to make the run-off and finished third in the first round on July 5.
Scioli called Lousteau to congratulate him on the closely contested election, according to his press department. Lousteau was supported by opposition lawmakers and candidates Elisa Carrio and Ernesto Sanz who will compete in the primary with Macri next month.
Macri, who danced on stage at the PRO campaign headquarters after the vote was announced, said the victory bolsters his party and its vow to root out corruption, inefficient spending and attacks on the judicial system.
“This new vote of confidence for this project of change that today can be felt all over Argentina is an enormous support for us,” Macri said.
Scioli didn’t see it that way, according to comments he made to C5N. He highlighted the PRO’s failure to win in nine out of 15 districts in Buenos Aires.
That failure was because “there was a punishment vote from many residents of Buenos Aires who are not happy with Macri´s administration,” he said.