Polls taken as the presidential campaigns of libertarian economist Javier Milei and socialist Economic Minister Sergio Massa conclude in Argentina this week found the candidates practically tied, offering no clear indication of who would emerge as the nation’s next chief executive.
Argentines will go to the polls on Sunday to choose their next president.
The election presents a clear distinction between Massa, whose government has presided over skyrocketing inflation and the worst economic crisis in the modern history of the country, and Milei, who rose to prominence as an economist and libertarian television commentator and whose Liberty Advances party, founded in 2021, has all but eliminated the establishment center-right coalition traditionally representing Argentine conservatives. Massa has repeatedly described a vote for Milei as a “leap into the abyss” that will result in the elimination of many of the socialists’ expansive government programs. Milei, in turn, has campaigned on eliminating the top political “caste” of socialists that has ruled and plundered the country since the early 2000s.
The election has featured at least two incidents of violent leftists attacking female supporters of Milei. On November 12, videos surfaced of a mob of leftist participants in an LGBTQI+ parade sexually harassing, yelling at, and intimidating a woman handing out Milei campaign materials in Buenos Aires. One man participating in the parade wearing lingerie appears to shove his genitals in the woman’s face:
In an incident documented this week, a woman identified as a 20-year-old campaign volunteer for Milei was beaten by a male alleged Massa campaigner, though the identity of the assailant has yet to be verified:
Maribel tiene 20 años, una de las mejores estudiantes de Economía de la Facultad de Lomas de Zamora, hoy estaba repartiendo boletas de @JMilei en la peatonal Laprida y frente a ellas otras repertían de Massa, de repente vino una militante de Massa y la molió a golpes porque la… pic.twitter.com/dMOn5S713B
— Tito (@Tito9k9) November 17, 2023
The Argentine newspaper Clarín noted that at least 13 polling firms conducted surveys on Thursday, some of them yet to be published at press time. The polls showed Milei ahead of Massa, but by barely a percentage point or two, within the polls’ margins of error. The Spanish newspaper El País calculated the average of 15 polls published in Argentina this week and found them collectively giving Milei 51.1 percent of the vote to Massa’s 48.8 percent, also within the margin of error.
Clarín noted that most polls did not note major changes in voter intentions between the first round of voting in the election, on October 22, and this week, including after the presidential debate last week. One outlier poll did show Milei leading Massa by 1.7 percent this week after showing Massa with a 10.4 percent lead shortly after the first election.
The Argentine presidential race this year has been marked by surprises. Milei – who became a lawmaker in 2021 after a surprise sweep by his party, Liberty Advances, in legislative elections that year – stunned observers by beating polls in August during Argentina’s Simultaneous and Mandatory Open Primaries (PASO), the process by which presidential candidates get on the ballot. All candidates wishing to be on the ultimate presidential ballot, regardless of party, appear in the PASO election. Milei received the most votes, though the objective of that election for candidates is merely to obtain 1.5 percent of votes to prove enough popularity to merit being an official presidential candidate.
Milei appeared to be topping most polls prior to the October 22 presidential election, a first round that featured five candidates and would have concluded if any candidate received either 45 percent of the vote or 40 percent of the vote with a ten-point lead ahead of the second-place finisher. No candidate reached this threshold, triggering a runoff between the top two vote-getters.
In that election, it was Massa who defied the polls, decisively coming in first place but not by enough to avoid the runoff. Milei, who was leading most polls, came in second.
The winner of Sunday’s election will become the next president of Argentina.
Milei and Massa ended their campaigns on Thursday with mass public events denouncing each other. Milei, in Córdoba, attracted an estimated 15,000 people, who chanted slogans such as “Massa, garbage, you are the dictatorship” and “long live liberty, damn it!” the unofficial slogan of the Milei campaign:
EL PUEBLO YA ELIGIÓ
LA LIBERTAD AVANZA 🇷 pic.twitter.com/0JQ7qMexDn
— Lucia Montenegro (@LMontenegrochdk) November 17, 2023
Milei used his time addressing the crowd to urge Argentines to embrace courage during the economic crisis the nation is facing.
“Let’s take the risk and go for the glory,” Milei asked his supporters. “Let’s defeat fear and let hope triumph.”
Milei also directly addressed Massa’s claims that a vote for Milei, who rose to prominence with no support from either the left- or right-wing political establishment, was a “leap into nothingness.”
“What risk are you talking about, what leap into nothingness when we are going to Hell?” Milei asked.
In Buenos Aires, Massa declared to his supporters, “It is time to defend utopias”:
El amor y la esperanza siempre le ganan al odio, a la bronca y a la violencia 🇷❤️ Gracias! pic.twitter.com/PFQkBW5HyS
— Sergio Massa (@SergioMassa) November 16, 2023
“The greatest utopia is the freedom of choosing where to study without anyone giving you a check or voucher, where to work without anyone taking your rights,” Massa continued, “having a model of development for your country without anyone putting the flag of another country in front, and the defense of equality of opportunity.”
The flag comment appeared to be a condemnation of Milei for waving an Israeli flag at public events in support of the victims of the unprecedented terrorist attack on the country by the genocidal terrorist group Hamas on October 7:
— Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) November 16, 2023
Campaigning concluded on Thursday for the election, giving Argentines two days to consider their options before the voting begins.