Sergio Massa and Javier Milei are heading to a run-off to decide the next president of the nation – but who will Patricia Bullrich’s voters support on November 19 now their candidate is out of the race?
Will Juntos por el Cambio’s voters support the ‘chainsaw’ plan of dramatic spending cuts and dollarisation of the economy proposed by Milei? Will they cast ‘blank’ ballots in protest at the choices before them? Or will they lean towards Massa, who in the last stretch of the campaign called on the main political forces to join a "great national agreement" to save Argentina’s economy?
For now, the only surety is that Bullrich is out of the race after receiving a disappointing 23.86 percent at the ballot box. Easily defeated by her rivals, Milei and Massa, the battle is on for her votes.
During the election campaign, Bullrich had some initial rapprochement with Milei, but after the PASO primaries, their relationship dramatically worsened as the knives came out. A row between the candidates – in which the libertarian accused his rival of formerly being part of the left-wing Montoneros guerrilla group during the 1970s – ended with the opposition leader filing a criminal complaint against the libertarian.
Nevertheless, Bullrich is far from friendly with Massa and she remained firmly critical of him, Peronism and Kirchnerism in her concession speech on Sunday night, hinting that she may potentially support Milei in the run-off.
"I am not going to be the one to congratulate someone who was part of the worst government in Argentina," declared Bullrich from Juntos por el Cambio’s bunker on Sunday night.
Yet the candidate’s inflexible stance does not necessarily translate to her voters – it remains to be seen what is greater: their hatred of and anger towards Kirchnerism or the fears sparked by Milei’s radical ideas.
Several key PRO leaders, starting with Mauricio Macri, are openly in tune with the libertarian economist’s proposals for restructuring the economy. However, Milei’s dollarisation plan continues to generate controversy outside of his immediate circle, with the disruptive plan seen by most experts as something of a leap into the void.
The expert view
Several analysts and consultancy firms have already started giving their takes on the question that could define the November 19 run-off.
At the Proyección Consultores firm, they clarified that although the scenario is complex, in principle they do not agree with the "linear analysis" that assumes that Bullrich's vote would automatically go to Milei.
"On the contrary, it is very divided,” they said. According to the experts, there is an important percentage of this group that sees "a risk" in the libertarian.
According to Proyección Consultores, those in question are a relatively homogeneous segment of voters who share a series of characteristics: of high socio-economic level, over 50 years of age, who value institutions and consider the importance of public health and education, for example.
Moreover, the specialists said these citizens evaluate with some "concern" the still unknown implications of Milei’s "chainsaw plan."
Experts at a second firm, CB Consultora de Opinión Pública, also said they remained cautious about the question. They said it was too early and that no clear perspective on the issue had been formed. "We should observe [what happens] in the next few days," they said.
Experienced analyst and consultant Eduardo Reina also said it was “premature” to conclude what will happen with Bullrich's voters, given that – in the light of Sunday's results – a "new election and campaign" is now underway.
However, Reina assured that a "large percentage" of opposition voters, perhaps close to half, are considering backing Milei in the run-off.
"There is a group of radicals who had voted for Patricia and could now go for Massa", argued Reina, who said Milei could improve his chances if he adopts the role of a “negotiator and conciliator.”
"The new leaders of Juntos por el Cambio will have to act, and they will have to put bandages on a wounded coalition with little quality of recovery," the specialist observed.
"Massa will not be oblivious and will be conciliatory and open his arms to everyone", Reina speculated about the economy minister’s next move.