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Argentines abroad bet on the rupture: "If Milei doesn't win, we'll be worse off than Venezuela"

2023-10-22T16:08:25.721Z

Highlights: Argentines abroad bet on the rupture: "If Milei doesn't win, we'll be worse off than Venezuela" More than 110,000 expatriates are called to the polls in Spain, the main base of voting abroad. Discontent with the economic situation and the unfulfilled promises of the last government resonates among Argentines living in Madrid. Javier Milei, Patricia Bullrich and Sergio Massa face off to succeed the current president, Alberto Fernández.


More than 110,000 expatriates are called to the polls in Spain, the main base of voting abroad. Many lament the economic and security situation in Argentina


Discontent with the economic situation and the unfulfilled promises of the last government resonates among Argentines living in Madrid, who predominantly appeal to one thing: change. Javier Milei, Patricia Bullrich and Sergio Massa face off at the polls on Sunday to succeed the current president, Alberto Fernández, in one of the most uncertain elections since the return to democracy 40 years ago. Among the Argentinian expatriates who have come to the polling station in Madrid on election day, there is a sense of discontent, anger, but also hope.

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Carmen Aguilera, 49, voted early in the morning at the Colegio Mayor Argentino, the polling place. She is a housewife and has been living in Madrid for 13 years. Their vote has been for Milei, the far-right outsider who burst into Argentine politics two years ago with an agenda based on the reduction of the State, which calls into question conquered rights such as abortion or the memory and reparation agreements of the military dictatorship. "He's the only one who can make a change and the only hope we have. If he doesn't win, we'll be worse off than Venezuela," he said. The economic situation in Argentina is one of the biggest concerns among citizens, intensified by uncontrolled hyperinflation and the loss of purchasing power. "Nobody's perfect, but among the [candidates] out there, he's the one who can move the country forward."

Voting abroad has increased exponentially over the years. In the 2019 presidential elections, 50,000 Argentine expatriates voted, five times more than went to the polls in the 2015 elections. The electoral roll has also grown: in Spain, the number of those called to vote rose by 20,000 in four years; in the world, 70,000. Despite being a demographic that has little impact on the overall results, as it represents only 1.5% of potential voters, Argentines in Spain vote with conviction.

A few meters from the exit doors of the Colegio Mayor sits Lautaro Aguilar, a 21-year-old young man. He also voted for Milei. "I really like the way he wants to run the economy," he says. His voice mixes with the music that comes from his speaker, a rock in Spanish from the nineties. The leader of La Libertad Avanza has especially won over young men, who, like Aguilar, value his "way of thinking." In the last polls before the elections, Milei was leading in voting intentions, with up to 35.3%, well above Massa's 30% or Bullrich's 25.9%. If confirmed, that support would not be enough to win in the first round, for which a victory of 45% or 40% is needed if there is an advantage of at least 10 points over the second.

Migrating through the crisis

In Spain, more than 110,000 Argentines are called to vote, almost a quarter of the 451,200 who can exercise this right in 87 countries. The largest polling place is in Barcelona, with 47,044 voters, followed by Madrid (34,196) and Cadiz (11,780). The rest are located in Tenerife, Vigo and Palma. Greta Frankenfeld, 48, has travelled from Bilbao to vote in Madrid. "If I need to go back to vote in the second place, I'll come back," he says. He has been a Peronist for years and has voted for Massa, economy minister and apprentice of former President Néstor Kirchner. He is the only left-wing candidate with a real chance of competing with Milei in a likely runoff. "I think [Massa] is the only viable option, any other option seems dangerous for Argentina and the world," he said. She speaks in a low voice, doubtful whether she should count who she voted for: "Abroad people tend to vote more to the right. We are a minority." In the 2019 elections, former President Mauricio Macri swept the foreign vote, with 75% of the vote.

In Madrid, Barcelona, Tenerife, Vigo, Palma de Mallorca and Cadiz, Argentines are exercising their right to vote in the #EleccionesArgentina2023 🗳️🇦🇷🇪🇸 #ArgentinosEnElExterior pic.twitter.com/eX8ZAeu2yV

— Argentina in Spain (@ARGenesp) October 22, 2023

Among those who voted for Bullrich is 38-year-old Jose Leonardo Garcia, who wears the jacket of the Argentine national team. "Of all the candidates, she is the most coherent and the one with the best model of change that we need for our country," he says. He migrated to Spain during the great economic crisis of the 17s and is now a janitor in a building. For Garcia, Milei is a "bizarre" who would "lead the country into the same crisis" from which he fled. The candidate of Juntos por el Cambio was, six months ago, the safe bet to move to the Casa Rosada, when Peronism was in an arduous internal crisis. Now, his voters are hardly confident that he will make it to the second round and the vote against the far-right will come together. The last polls before the elections, from 19 polling houses, give Bullrich a pass to an eventual second round, scheduled for November <>, on only two occasions, according to the electoral authorities.

Guillermo di Gregorio and his daughter, Paula, aged 66 and 20, voted for Bullrich. How do they justify their vote? "She's much more sensible than Milei. My generation has connected with him simply because they are tired of Peronism," the young woman responds. They have been in Spain for 18 years and migrated for economic reasons, as well as most of the people consulted by this newspaper. The phenomenon is no coincidence. An April report by the Observatory of Applied Social Psychology at the University of Buenos Aires reveals that five out of 10 residents of Argentina's main urban centers would leave the country. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, the figure rises to seven out of 10. The main reasons for migrating are the country's "situation of decline", insecurity, lack of job opportunities and the economic crisis. It is for this last reason that Estela Mares, 66, migrated to Spain two years ago. "It wasn't easy to leave behind my roots, the country I love," she says a few minutes after voting. However, he highlights the general feeling: "We are all in good spirits, sure that Argentina deserves a really profound change."

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Source: elparis

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