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Argentines vote in Mauricio Macri

It was a hard-fought battle between Daniel Scioli and Mauricio Macri.  One, the former, was the favourite of Argentina’s outgoing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner while the other is a centre-right politician.  On the evening of November 22, Argentines decided to turn the Kirchner page and vote in Mauricio Macri.

A former businessman and a football club president, Mr. Macri decided to enter politics in 1991 after a kidnapping, which lasted 12 days.  At his inauguration today, which incidentally was snubbed by President Cristina Fernandez, he made much of the fact that he was there to do away with any vestige of the Kirchner era, which lasted 12 years and plunged the country into a deep financial crisis. And as if starting as he meant to go on, he took his oath 15 minutes ahead of schedule, as reported by The Associated Press.

“Today, a dream is being achieved,” the former mayor of Buenos Aires, who whipped the city into shape by improving its infrastructure, said as he went on to reassure the 41 million Argentines that he will always be honest with them.

“I will always be honest with you. And being honest means telling you that the challenges in front of us are enormous.”

After the drug trade, corruption, social inequality, inflation and more, only one solution for this pro-market leader offers itself up: instituting free market reforms.

He has already promised to lift the currency control and create transparency where economic data is concerned.  Since 2011, the country has been plunged into a deep economic crisis marked by unemployment and high inflation.

The economic crisis came about after the introduction by the government of Cristina Fernandez of an exchange rate policy called The Clamp, which was to control the flow of capital that was leaving the country.  This meant buying the American dollar became expensive as an official permit had to be sought from the government, creating then an implosion of a dollar-selling black market.

And yet, in 2005, the country was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, thanks to the soaring price of commodities worldwide and a successful debt-restructuring plan introduced by the first Kirchner, Nestor Kirchner, and husband of Cristina Fernandez, who introduced said measures to deal with the political and economic chaos of 2001. The country’s climate was so chaotic that it had three presidents in two weeks.

Many Argentines are ready to turn the Kirchner page even if views are split where Mauricio Macri is concerned.

“Macri would probably be better for business, but I don’t like him.  He says lots of nice things, but I don’t find him convincing,” Mario Rodriguez, a street trader in Buenos Aires said, while Eugene Pandiani, a dentist, said that he voted for Macri because “after 12 years of Cristina and her husband, we need someone different.”

It is this hope of change that Macri brings with him.  There is the added benefit that “the market prefers him and foreign investors feel he is more reliable and predictable,” said Nicolas Dujovne, an economist and political analyst.

The only worry for some in that South American nation is that Macri might drastically implement these changes, and after 12 years of high involvement of the state, Argentines might not be quite ready for drastic change.

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