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Argentina's Macri faces uphill race for re-election after weak primary

Argentina's Macri faces uphill race for re-election after weak primary

Voters in Argentina have cast doubt on President Mauricio Macri's chances of re-election by backing his opponent by a wide margin in a primary vote, early official results showed on Sunday.

"We will reverse yesterday's bad result and we will have a closer election" in the October 27 first round, Macri said, flaked by vice presidential candidate Miguel Angel Pichetto. The vote, however, is an opportunity to poll voters and determine potential front-runners in the future race.

According to local media reports, Frente de Todos (Front for Everyone) party, led by former Prime Minister Alberto Fernandez, is in the lead with 47.7 percent of votes, followed by President Mauricio Macri's coalition Juntos por el cambio (Together for Change).

A candidate needs at least 45 percent of the vote, or 40 percent and a difference of 10 percentage points over the second-place runner, in order to win the presidency outright. "We have come to give Argentina a better horizon", Fernandez said.

"We've had a bad election and that forces us to redouble our efforts", said Macri, whose popularity has plunged since last year's currency crisis and the much-criticized $56 billion International Monetary Fund bail-out loan he secured.

"We are going to fix, what the others have broken", he added. Voting is obligatory in Argentina.

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The Argentine president said he was taking the necessary and painful steps to get the economy going after 12 years of populist policies under former President Cristina Fernandez and her predecessor and late husband, Nestor Kirchner.

Cristina Fernandez is now facing a series of trials for corruption during her 2007-2015 administration.

Macri's election in 2015 marked the first time in a more than a decade that Argentina's centre-right opposition had unseated the centre-left Peronist movement to which Cristina Fernandez belongs.

"Another sharp and sustained episode of financial volatility that interrupts the recent downward trend in inflation, improvement in confidence and recovery in economic activity could increase voter frustration with Macri and lead his support to erode from current levels". Macri said he hoped to reverse the negative results from the primary.

Poverty now affects 32% of the population. The Argentine Peso is among the world's worst-performing currencies this year.Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Investors see Fernandez as a riskier prospect than free-markets advocate Macri due to the opposition's past interventionist policies.