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By: Nicolás Misculin
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s favored candidate is gaining ground against former populist leader Cristina Fernandez in a closely watched Senate race in the country’s largest province of Buenos Aires, sources from both parties and two analysts said.
Former Argentine President and candidate for the Senate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner poses with supporters in Ituzaingo, Argentina September 12, 2017.
Macri’s former Education Minister Esteban Bullrich of his Let’s Change coalition appears to have reversed the trend since last month when Fernandez narrowly beat him by 0.08 percentage points in a nonbinding primary vote.
While a second-place finish would still guarantee Fernandez a Senate seat, the number of votes she gets is being closely watched by investors who see the Oct. 22 vote as a gauge of her potential to stage a comeback in the 2019 presidential election.
Analyst Ricardo Rouvier has not finished his latest poll but estimated that Bullrich was leading Fernandez by about 3 percentage points in Buenos Aires province, home to nearly 40 percent of Argentine voters.
“Cristina has a large number of votes, but she is stuck there, she has a ceiling,” he said in an interview.
Fernandez’s 2007 to 2015 presidency saw Latin America’s No. 3 economy cut off from international capital markets and several companies nationalized. Fernandez was indicted for corruption last year, though she dismisses the charges as politically motivated. A seat in Congress would give her immunity from arrest though not from trial.
“We have registered our growth in the polls,” said a high-level government source who asked not to be identified.
Citizen’s Unity, the party Fernandez founded before launching her candidacy in June, confirmed the trend but said Bullrich had a smaller lead.
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