On Eve Of Argentine Election, Polls Lean Right
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Argentina's been ruled by the same family for the last 12 years. After tomorrow's election, the president will have not only a new last name, but likely a new agenda. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Buenos Aires that Argentines say this election is the most important in a generation.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: I meet with a group of seven young Argentine's, naturally, in a busy cafe. This is, after all, South America's coffee shop capital. Santos Urquiza is 25 years old.
SANTOS URQUIZA: We need a change in the way our government is functioning because...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says he's tired of the last 12 years of leftist policies under Nestor and Cristina Kirchner. So Urquiza is voting for the current frontrunner, right-of-center Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri. He's the former head of a popular soccer club and the son of a wealthy construction magnate. Critics say Macri's privileged background puts him out of touch with the working class.
SANTIAGO RESNIK: I think that what we achieve will be lost if Macri wins.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Santiago Resnik is also in his 20s, and he wants Daniel Scioli to win. Scioli is the former governor of Buenos Aires province. And he's also a sporting man, a one-time speedboat champion who lost his arm in a boating accident. He's the anointed successor of Cristina Kirchner, and he's pledged continuity, including keeping generous spending on social programs. What's at stake is Latin America's third-largest economy says Matteus Carugatti with think tank Management and Fit.
MATTEUS CARUGATTI: We have an economy that hasn't grown in four years with high inflation. The poverty rate is still at the same level as it was in 2011. So we have poor results in terms of economic performance.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The economist says regardless of the new president's political leanings, there are some difficult measures in the cards.
CARUGATTI: Devaluation is one of them; another, a cut in subsidies to energy and transportation.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Which will affect the currency and the cost of living here. This election also matters to the United States. Julia Pomares is from CIPPEC, another think tank, and she says sitting President Cristina Kirchner has been in opposition to much of American foreign policy in the region, especially in regards to difficult issues like the leftist leadership of Venezuela. If Macri wins, he has already signaled there will be a shift in the relationship.
JULIA POMARES: I think in many ways he will be a better ally, so it will be a very interesting situation to see.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Latin America is watching these elections closely, too. A right-of-center president governing in Argentina could be the first sign that the wave of leftist leaders in Latin America that rose to power over a decade ago could be falling out of favor. What was called the Pink Tide may be washing out to sea. If the polls are right and Macri wins, Argentina and Latin America, come Monday, could start to look very different. Lourdes Garcia -Navarro, NPR News, Buenos Aires. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.