• Ruling party's Daniel Scioli improves marginally on primaries
  • Scioli close to 40 percent and 10 point lead he needs

The chances of Argentina’s ruling party candidate winning the presidential election in a first round are increasing as Daniel Scioli’s proposal to make gradual changes to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s economic policies gains traction.

Scioli, who is looking to succeed Fernandez in the Oct. 25 vote, has improved on the 38.4 percent he attracted in August primaries, bringing him closer to securing the 40 percent support and 10 percentage-point lead needed to avoid a run-off, according to Raul Aragon, director of polling firm Raul Aragon & Asociados. Mauricio Macri, who garnered 30.1 percent in the primaries, has seen his voter intentions fall since August, Aragon said.

“Scioli is on the cusp, but it’s a fine margin,” Aragon said by phone from Buenos Aires. “As much as Macri falls, if Scioli doesn’t reach that 40 percent there will still be a second round.”

A Scioli victory would ensure that Fernandez’s policies such as currency controls, import and export restrictions and subsidized transport would not be changed abruptly. In spite of a sputtering economy, the second-highest inflation rate in the Americas and a widening fiscal deficit, the ruling Victory Front alliance still commands broad popular support, especially among the poor who have benefited from Fernandez’s social programs.

Scioli needs to overcome a series of technical hurdles to ensure a first-round victory. He must win with 45 percent of the votes or obtain 40 percent of total votes with a lead of more than 10 percentage points.

Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires who has pledged a quicker end to Fernandez’s policies, is losing votes to a third candidate, Sergio Massa, Aragon said.

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