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Argentina’s 2023 election marked 40 years since its return to democracy.

PASO primaries

The PASO primaries (Open, Simultaneous, and Obligatory Primaries) took place on 13 August, the first key date in the 2023 electoral calendar.

The primaries were used to select the final candidates for coalitions and allowed voters to give an early indication of their preferences.

In a result that surprised many political commentators, Javier Milei, of the Liberty Advances party, won the PASO, securing 30% of the vote.

Of the 15 parties and coalitions that contested the PASO, five met the 1.5% threshold of total votes that would allow them to challenge the formal first round of the presidential election.

First round of presidential election

The election campaign was dominated by economic concerns as inflation in Argentina approached 140%. Other key concerns for voters included corruption, unemployment, education and a perceived weakening of democracy.

On 22 October 2023 Argentina carried out the first-round vote to decide who would be the next president and vice president (President Alberto Fernandez had announced earlier in the year that he would not be standing for re-election). Congressional elections also took place on this date.

In a surprise to pollsters, who had predicted a Javier Milei victory, the election results showed Sergio Massa won the most votes, with almost 37%. Milei was second, taking 30% of votes.

2023 Argentina presidential election: First round results

As no candidate reached the threshold of 45% of votes, or 40% with a 10-point lead over their closest rival, the top two candidates were advanced to contest the second-round runoff poll on 19 November.

Second round

In a reversal of the first round, Milei won the runoff, securing 55.69% of votes against 44.31% for Massa.

2023 Argentina presidential election: Second round results

Milei’s victory saw him winning the highest number of votes in Argentina’s history, beating the previous record set by Mauricio Macri in 2015.

Looking ahead

Despite Milei’s clear victory, however, he faces major obstacles in pursuing his agenda, primarily from the Congress. Following the Congressional election on 22 October, Milei’s Liberty Advances party controls just 38 of 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and eight of the 72 seats in the Senate.

Outside of Congress, Liberty Advances has no governors or major city mayors, which places additional limits for Milei in Argentina’s strong federal system.

International reaction

Leaders of other countries largely congratulated Milei for his victory, but there were mixed reactions from leaders across Latin America, depending upon their ideological viewpoints.

Lord Cameron, the UK Foreign Secretary, sent his congratulations and Argentine commentators have suggested it is likely that the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute will have a lower profile in the new administration than it had in previous governments.

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