With the PASO primaries due in less than a week, President Alberto Fernández has taken aim at the opposition in a new column, warning the country that citizens face a stark choice between “two models” at the ballot box next Sunday.
"We are facing two clearly opposed models for the country that look at people’s problems in a different way. And understanding the dimension of the discrepancy is central to building the future," the president wrote in an op-ed published on the Infobae news portal.
In the article, headlined “The 100th Day,” the Peronist leader defended his government’s time in office and stressed that since he was sworn-in on December 10, 2019, the country enjoyed only "99 days of normal health" before the coronavirus pandemic arrived.
“The rest was basically putting an abandoned healthcare system on its feet and facing contagion from an unknown virus. All of our original plans were turned upside down because the priorities were suddenly different,” he argued.
Pushing his case and slamming his predecessor Mauricio Macri, Fernández argued that the pandemic, coupled with “the resounding failure of the government that preceded us should be reason enough to explain so much uncertainty."
“It is evident that we had to face the sum of two crises: the one derived from the pandemic and the one generated by the previous government,” wrote the president.
Next Sunday's PASO primaries will be a crucial test for the president, with Argentina set to go to the polls for legislative elections on November 14, when citizens will renew a third of the Senate and half of the lower house Chamber of Deputies.
In both this month’s ballot and the midterms, most eyes will be on Buenos Aires Province, Peronism’s traditional heartland of support and home to a third of the electorate, and Buenos Aires City, where the opposition centre-right Juntos coalition is in control.
Fernández said that his government is committed to generating economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic and a 9.9 percent decline in GDP recorded last year.
"All estimates show that when this year ends, Argentina will have grown more than seven percent," he wrote.
While activity is showing signs of bouncing back, that has not yet been reflected in the pockets of citizens, who are struggling to cope with runaway inflation. Prices increased 29.1 percent from January to July this year alone.
To date, around 63 percent of Argentina’s 45-million-strong population has been vaccinated with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, while 36 percent have been given both doses. There has, however, been a sustained decrease in confirmed infections over the last 14 weeks, a development that has seen the gradual reopening of most activities with coronavirus protocols.
Argentina has recorded 5.2 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 112,000 fatalities.