General elections were held in Argentina on 25 October 2015 to elect the President and National Congress, and followed primary elections which were held on 9 August 2015. A second round of voting between the two leading candidates took place on 22 November, after surprisingly close results forced a runoff. On the first runoff voting ever held for an Argentine Presidential Election, opposition leader and Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri narrowly defeated FPV candidate and Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli. He took office on 10 December, making him the first freely elected president in almost a century who was not either a Radical or a Peronist.
The election of the president was carried out using the ballotage system, a modified version of the two-round system in which a candidate can win the presidency in the first round either by receiving 45% of the vote, or by receiving 40% of the vote and finishing at least 10 percentage points ahead of the second-place candidate. Voting is compulsory for citizens between 18 and 70 years old.Suffrage was also extended to 16- and 17-year-olds, though without compulsory voting.
There are a total of 257 seats of the Chamber of Deputies, elected from 24 electoral districts–the 23 provinces, plus the federal district of Buenos Aires, which its own executive and legislature and is represented in the national Congress like all other provinces. The number of seats are distributed in relation to the population of the province. In order to be in concordance with the "one-third female" law enforces that one-third of the overall seats in the Chamber of Deputies are female. The 130 seats of the Chamber of Deputies up for election were elected from 24 multi-member constituencies based on the 23 provinces and Buenos Aires. Seats were allocated using the D'Hondt method of proportional representation, with an electoral threshold of 3%.
The 24 seats in the Senate up for election were elected in three-seat constituencies using the closed list system. Each district is represented by three senatorial seats. Each party is allowed to register up to two candidates; one of those registered must be female. The party receiving the most votes wins two seats, and the second-placed party won one. The third senatorial seat was established in the Constitution of 1994 in order to better represent the largest minority in each district.
Parties and coalitions provided their own ballot papers, which voters placed in sealed envelopes. However, voters were able to cut ballot papers up and place different sections from different parties inside the envelope if they wanted to vote for different candidates or lists for different posts. Being under a Federal system, it is possible for different provinces to use different systems.
In Buenos Aires and Salta electronic voting machines were used to print out a single unified ballot, with voters able to select different candidates and parties on a touch screen. Other municipalities such as Bariloche opted for a non-electronic single unified ballot. Opposition candidates, including Sergio Massa, Mauricio Macri and Margarita Stolbizer called for the nationwide implementation of a unified ballot and/or electronic voting, though Massa in particular was more cautious, saying it was more realistic for such a system to be implemented by 2017. The authority in charge of regulating elections rejected changing the system within 2015 since they claimed it would be too short term to implement the changes and explain to the public how the new system works.
Initially, the FPV had several pre-candidates to the presidency, but only Daniel Scioli and Florencio Randazzo had a good reception in the opinion polls. Scioli was resisted by factions of the party that did not consider him truly loyal to Kirchner. All the minor candidates resigned when Kirchner asked them to do so. Randazzo resigned as well some weeks before the primary elections, leaving Scioli as the sole precandidate of the FPV. Randazzo did not accept to run for governor of the Buenos Aires province, which had primary elections between minister Aníbal Fernández and Julián Domínguez. Fernández won the local primary elections.
Opinion polls during the first round had underestimated the number of voters intending to vote for Macri, while later polls underestimated Scioli.
With Kirchner unable to run, three candidates led the opinion polls; Daniel Scioli, Sergio Massa and Mauricio Macri. Several controversies took place during the time of the elections, or related to the elections themselves.
The primary elections and some local elections had scandals of Electoral fraud. There was a frequent theft of ballot papers from the polling places. State-owned Correo Argentino collects the results of each school and sends them to a centralized location for their global count; there have been reports of inconsistencies between the results signed in the schools and those informed by Correo Argentino. Tucumán even had a case of people burning ballot boxes, which led to several demonstrations at Plaza Independencia. There was policial repression on those demonstrations, leading to further scandals.
Journalist Jorge Lanata aired an interview with a prisoner sentenced for the 2008 Triple crime, who claimed that Aníbal Fernández was the mastermind of that crime. This increased the tensions between Fernández and Domínguez, as Fernández considered that Domínguez helped Lanata somehow. Scioli stayed away from both precandidates to governor in the last week before the primary elections, which were won by Fernández.
Ariel Velázquez, a sympathizer of the Radical Civic Union, was shot in his house in Jujuy, after taking part in the political campaign. He died two weeks later, and the Tupac Amaru organization (led by Kirchnerite Milagro Sala) was blamed for it. President Cristina Kirchner claimed that he was not a Radical, which was refuted by his family.
Several cities in the Buenos Aires Province suffered big floods during the primary elections, and the following week. The flood affected 10,000 people. Daniel Scioli had left to Italy at that moment, and made a rushed return. Mauricio Macri considered it a result of poor urban planning under Scioli's provincial government, and compared it with the lack of flooding in Buenos Aires during the same storm, which had undergone flood prevention works under his leadership. Scioli accused users of social networks to plot to damage his public image, and claimed that he has all of them identified.
Vote buying is also a common tool utilized in Argentine elections. As for this election, the director for the Center for Research and Social Action, Rodrigo Zarazaga stated, “Vote buying strategies will probably sway 5 to 12 percent of Argentine voters on Sunday.” An example of vote buying during this election took place in Buenos Aires. Voters in this area were given the option to vote for particular candidates during the municipal elections in Tucumán. The Argentine citizens that actually promised had received “sacks stuffed with bottles of cooking oil, pasta and flour.”
Open primary elections for the Presidency were held nationwide on 9 August 2015. With this system, all parties run primary elections on a single ballot. All parties must take part in it, both the parties with internal factions and parties with a single candidate list. Citizens may vote for any candidate of any party, but may only cast a single vote. The most voted candidate of parties gaining 1.5% or higher of the valid votes advances to the general election.
Scioli led the field with 38.41% of the vote, nearly 8 percentage points ahead of Macri; both figures would have placed him close to the threshold for avoiding a ballotage. Sergio Massa finished third. Both Macri and Massa easily defeated their rivals in the primary elections; Scioli, Stolbizer and Rodríguez Saá were the single candidates of their respective parties. Nicolás del Caño defeated Altamira, and became the unexpected candidate for the Worker's Left Front.
Opinion polls previous to the result suggested that Scioli would win by a wide margin, and might even be able to avoid a ballotage. However, the final results showed only a narrow lead for Scioli, with his 37.08% just ahead of Macri's 34.15%, leading to new elections on 22 November. Massa got the third place, with 21% of the vote, and both candidates sought to secure the voters that had voted for him. Both candidates were polarized on the opinion about the presidency of Cristina Kirchner: Scioli proposes to keep most of the Kirchnerite policies, and Macri to change them. In the legislative elections, the FPV lost the majority of the chamber of deputies, but keeps the majority of the senate.
Scioli declined to attend the first leaders' debate previous to the elections, which was held between the other five candidates instead. When the ballotage was confirmed, he asked Macri for a presidential debate between both candidates, which was accepted. Two debates were being organized: one by the NGO "Argentina debate", and another one by the TV news channel Todo Noticias. Macri preferred to take part in a single debate with Scioli, and opted for the one organized by Argentina Debate.
Macri criticized Scioli for a negative campaigning launched by the Front for Victory. Several politicians and state institutions run by the FPV released messages warning about terrible things that may happen if Macri was elected president. Scioli claims that it was a campaign to encourage public awareness. It is rumored that the campaign may have been suggested by the Brazilian João Santana, who organized a similar one in Brazil during the ballotage of Dilma Rousseff and Aécio Neves.
The ballotage was held on 22 November. Daniel Scioli accepted his defeat when 70% of the votes were counted; the provisional results were 53% and 47% at that moment. The distance between both candidates slowly reduced in the following hours, leading to a victory of a smaller margin for Macri than most exit polls suggested. Nevertheless, his victory ended the 12-year rule of Kirchnerism in the country.
Macri owed his victory to Córdoba, the second-largest province, swinging dramatically to support him; he carried the province by over 930,000 votes in the second round, far exceeding his nationwide margin of 680,600 votes. Buenos Aires also swung hard to Macri, giving its mayor over 64 percent of the vote in the second round.
The votes in Entre Ríos had a slow count. During a week, the provisional results suggested that Gustavo Bordet may be the new governor of Entre Ríos, but Alfredo de Angeli claimed that the uncounted votes may turn the tide and make him the winner instead. The final results were released on 30 October, confirming the victory of Bordet. In Misiones, Hugo Passalacqua, vice governor of Maurice Closs was elected governor by a wide margin.
Brazil – Despite the ruling Workers' party having supported Scioli during the campaign, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff congratulated Macri and invited him to a state visit "as soon as possible", while she is also set to attend Macri's inauguration as president. The pair have stated that improving bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as strengthening the Mercosur trade bloc.
Chile – Chilean president Michelle Bachelet contacted Macri by phone and spoke about the importance for both countries which can maintain the spirit of cooperation, integration and development which characterizes their common history and the importance of further work for Latin America.
Colombia – Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos expressed "Congratulations to Mauricio Macri for his victory in presidential elections in Argentina. Successes in his management. It has our full support"
Ecuador – Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa congratulated Macri for his victory and wished him "the best of luck". While commenting on the presidencies of the Kirchners, he stated that "12 years ago Argentina was reborn like a phoenix, after neoliberalism had left it in ashes" whilst thanking the incumbent Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Mexico – Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto stated that "Mexico will work with" Macri's government to strengthen "bilateral relations and the wellbeing of Latin America".
Peru – Peruvian President Ollanta Humala contacted with Macri in order to congratulate him on his election victory and point out that the Peruvian Government has "strong will" to strengthen ties with his country, reported the Peruvian Foreign Ministry.
United States – The United States Secretary of StateJohn Kerry congratulated the country for its "successful elections", adding that he was "looking forward to working closely" with Macri and his government. Meanwhile, United States Ambassador to ArgentinaNoah Mamet wished Macri well. Members of the United States House of Representatives later asked Barack Obama in a letter to prioritise US-Argentine relations during 2016, stating that "The United States and Argentina should be natural partners. Both have highly educated populations, diversified economies and vast natural resources" and calling such a relationship a "win-win" for both countries. The letter also stressed the importance of reversing high levels of anti-americanism in the country and resolving the holdout problem with the Vulture Funds, among other key issues. Obama later congratulated Macri personally, while an official White House statement confirmed that the President intends to strengthen ties.
Uruguay – Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez greeted Mauricio Macri in a telephone interview for his victory in presidential runoff and asked him to convey the congratulations to the people of Argentina for the civic maturity demonstrated during the election.
Venezuela – On 23 November, Venezuela's opposition hailed Macri's presidential win in Argentina as a blow for leftists in Latin America and a good omen for their own duel with "Chavismo" in next month's parliamentary vote. "That was a big disappointment for Venezuela's ruling socialist "Chavismo" movement, which had a close political alliance with Fernández."Diosdado Cabello called Macri a "fascist", and asked him to stay away of Venezuelan internal affairs, as Macri had proposed to remove Venezuela from the Mercosur because of the treatment to Leopoldo López and other political prisoners.
China – "China congratulates Mr. Macri on being elected as the new Argentinean president and wishes the Argentinean people new achievements in their national development," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing.
Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes ties between two countries to strengthen, invites Mauricio Macri to visit Israel.
France – French President François Hollande sent a telegram to Macri and expressed "We will have the opportunity at that time to deepen our dialogue and our bilateral relationship that is one of the densest known to the Latin American continent". Hollande also confirmed a state visit to Argentina in February 2016.
Germany – German Chancellor Angela Merkel also congratulated Macri and requested that he make a state visit. She added that the two countries have "always been deeply tied", particularly in the area of science which she deemed "one of the pillars" of the two countries' relations. Merkel also remarked that she would be "thankful" if the countries could strengthen cooperation "in all areas".
Italy – Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called Macri on the night of his victory and stated that he will meet soon with the new president to "open a new page of collaboration between the two countries". He also highlighted the historical and cultural ties between the two countries, stating that "it is the country with the largest presence of Italian citizens in the world", numbering some 900,000. The Cambiemos victory also provoked much reaction in the domestic Italian press.
Russia – In a telegram to Macri, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his hopes that the two countries will continue to increase the "bilateral cooperation within diverse areas and the coordination of efforts to resolve current occurrences within the international agenda", adding that "the fundamental intesests of the people of Russia and Argentina contribute to guarantee the stability and security of Latin America and the world", while reminding Macri that the countries had recently celebrated 130 years of diplomatic relations. Putin also made reference to the ongoing nuclear power and hydrocarbon extraction projects between the countries.
Spain – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has a close relationship with Macri, congratulated him and invited him to carry out a state visit "as soon as possible", stating that he is confident that the new government will "lead this new stage with success" while offering "the necessary support to consolidate the historical ties of friendship, fraternity and cooperation". The relationship between Spain and Argentina had become increasingly tense under the presidency of Cristina Kirchner, particularly after the Renationalization of YPF in 2012.
United Kingdom – UK Prime Minister David Cameron called Macri to congratulate him and offered his support for his presidency. A Downing Street spokesperson stated that "both leaders expect to meet in the near future", emphasising trade relations and investments, while also prioritising the establishment of a free trade agreement between MERCOSUR and the European Union "as soon as possible".
The MERVAL index climbed 28% to record highs in the four weeks leading up to the run-off, largely attributed to a potential Cambiemos victory, though this dropped 3% on the day following the election.JPMorgan lowered Argentina's risk index by 16% on the day following the election, to levels not seen since 2011, while Argentine bonds increased across the board. Similarly, Moody's raised the country's outlook from "stable" to "positive" following the election.