Populist challenges economy minister in Argentina's presidential runoff

© Mariana Nedelcu, Reuters

Voters in Argentina were heading to the polls Sunday in a presidential runoff election that will determine whether South America’s second-largest economy will take a rightward shift.

Populist Javier Milei, an upstart candidate who got his start as a television talking head, has frequently been compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump. He faces Economy Minister Sergio Massa of the Peronist party, which has been a leading force in Argentine politics for decades.

On Massa's watch, inflation has soared to more than 140% and poverty has increased. Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist, proposes to slash the size of the state and rein in inflation, while Massa has warned people about the negative impacts of such policies.

The highly polarizing election is forcing many to decide which of the two they consider to be the least bad option.

“Whatever happens in this election will be incredible," said Lucas Romero, director of local political consultancy Synopsis. “It would be incredible for Massa to win in this economic context or for Milei to win facing a candidate as professional as Massa."

Voting stations opened at 8 a.m. (1100 GMT) and close 10 hours later. Voting is conducted with paper ballots, making the count unpredictable, but initial results were expected around three hours after polls close.


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