Macri faces a tough fight
President Mauricio Macri is in a precarious situation. After securing an opposition-crushing victory in the 2017 legislative elections, the president's odds for reelection looked assured. Then came Argentina's balance of payments crisis, which necessitated a painful adjustment for the Argentine economy.
For Macri, this adjustment has been as politically painful as economic. His popularity has declined by 32 percentage points—to 34% in June (just off a low of 28% in May)—since the legislative elections.
Now, the 27 October presidential election is an uncertain, two-horse race between Macri and the ticket featuring Alberto Fernandez and his running mate, ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Confidence in government has fallen significantly—a poor omen for the incumbent party. As of now, it appears that the Fernandez ticket has the edge.
However, with more than three months ahead of the 27 October vote, Macri still has time to gain ground. He will likely underperform the Fernandez ticket in the 11 August primaries, but provided the gap is not large and both candidates secure vote shares in the thirties, Macri will still be in the game.
For Macri, it all comes down to the economy and whether the nascent signs of recovery continue. If the peso maintains its recent stability and inflation starts to decelerate more rapidly, Macri's support could grow and his reelection chances would improve.
But even if economic conditions improve ahead of the elections, the post-election outlook is still challenging. The winner will be forced to make the difficult adjustments mandated by the IMF while likely facing stringent governability challenges. Macri would likely be facing a divided congress. Fernandez, while aiming to be pragmatic, would struggle with similar political constraints—as well as a vice president that would try to challenge him as the primary decision-maker.