Head-to-head race expected: Argentina divided before tiebreaker: "For many, this is an impossible choice"

Diana del Rio has decided: In the runoff election on Sunday, the 62-year-old Argentine will put a blank ballot paper in the urn.

Head-to-head race expected: Argentina divided before tiebreaker: "For many, this is an impossible choice"

Diana del Rio has decided: In the runoff election on Sunday, the 62-year-old Argentine will put a blank ballot paper in the urn. Neither Economy Minister Sergio Massa nor the ultra-liberal populist Javier Milei seem suitable to the vet as president. The outcome of the vote is still completely open, the proportion of undecided people is too high.

"Actually, I don't think it's right," says del Rio in her small animal clinic in Buenos Aires. But she sees no other option than to abstain from the runoff election: "One candidate seems to me to be a disrespectful lunatic, and with the other we have seen what he is doing for many years." Del Rio's colleague Julieta Díaz also can't decide. “You can only choose the lesser evil,” says the 37-year-old.

Argentina is in the worst economic crisis in decades, and the new president faces huge challenges. But many Argentines don't trust either candidate to get the problems under control. As economics minister, Massa is partly responsible for a three-digit inflation rate and growing poverty. Milei, who describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist, wants to abolish the central bank, cut public spending "with a chainsaw" and replace the Argentine peso with the US dollar.

"For many Argentines, this is an impossible choice. By far the most important voters in the decision are the huge bloc of those who strongly reject both options," said Benjamin Gedan of the Wilson Center think tank in Washington.

According to polls, the two candidates are neck and neck, with Milei having a slight lead. According to pollsters, seven to 13 percent are still undecided or want to cast a blank ballot. Those undecided include voters for Patricia Bullrich, the former right-wing security minister, who was eliminated in the first round of voting in October with just under 24 percent of the vote.

María López definitely doesn't want to shy away from deciding on a candidate. But a few days before the election she still feels completely confused, says the 39-year-old, who works in a jewelry store. There she sees prices rising month after month.

Given the depressing economic situation and inflation of 143 percent, López and her husband have decided against having a baby. "You can't plan the future anymore. You don't know what will happen tomorrow. Rents have exploded, it's becoming increasingly difficult to hold on until the end of the month," she says. Like many others, she fears a devaluation of the peso, which several analysts believe is inevitable after the election.

"Unfortunately, you have to choose," says Pablo Rivera, who has been running a small flower stand in the upscale Recoleta district for more than 30 years. Voting is compulsory in Argentina. The 55-year-old observes that there are fewer and fewer people who have money left over for flower decorations. “If I vote, it will be for Milei,” he says. "But at the same time I don't want to vote for him either. This country is a disgrace!"

“I will only make the decision at the last moment – ​​when I have made all my calculations,” says Ernesto Velásquez while walking in the park with his small child. “The country is split in two,” says the IT expert.

Retiree Margarita Pérez vents her anger at a market in the Isidro Casanova district: "I'm fed up with these presidents who don't do anything for us," she says. She says through tears that she has to go cleaning to make ends meet. "I know I will vote on Sunday, but I don't know who," says Pérez. "I'm leaning towards Massa. Milei scares me - I don't know if he's smart or crazy."

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