Polls open as Argentinian vote in presidential election

Voting got underway Sunday in Argentina's presidential election after a campaign dominated by the economy issue with center-left Peronist candidate Alberto Fernandez favored to oust market-friendly President Mauricio Macri.

 Iran Press/America: Opinion polls point to a crushing victory for the 60-year-old Fernandez, whose running mate is ex-president Cristina Kirchner. Some put his lead at almost 20 points, which would be enough to win the presidency outright in the first round, reported Iran Press.

The polls opened at 8:00 am (1100 GMT), with results expected at about 9:00 pm -- three hours after voting ends. 

The likely return to power of protectionist Peronists comes amid a lengthy recession and a debt crunch, raising market fears of a possible default on a $57 billion IMF loan.

The peso fell 5.86 percent in the week before the elections, and the week ended with the dollar at 65 pesos. Fernandez has insisted his government would not default, but rather seek to renegotiate the terms of the loan, and sought to reassure voters that their bank deposits would be safe under his administration.

Since Fernandez's crushing victory in August primaries, which made him the favorite for the presidency, Argentine savers have withdrawn around $12 billion from their accounts. Whoever wins must reach a consensus to navigate a polarized Argentina out of the crisis, AFP reported.

Beyond showing his determination to bring about change, Fernandez has given scant details of how he intends to do so. In primaries held in August, Fernandez garnered 49.5 percent of the vote compared to only 33 percent for Macri, whose nearly four years in power have been marked by economic woes.

Macri blamed Argentina's economic problems on previous Peronist governments under Kirchner (2007-15) and her late husband Nestor Kirchner (2003-07). 205/219

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