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Argentina Braces for Election—and Markets React

The Peronists are predicted to take the presidency, inheriting an economic crisis.

By , a senior editor at Foreign Policy.
Argentine presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running mate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner greet supporters during the closing rally of their campaign in Mar del Plata, Argentina on Oct. 24.
Argentine presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running mate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner greet supporters during the closing rally of their campaign in Mar del Plata, Argentina on Oct. 24.
Argentine presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running mate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner greet supporters during the closing rally of their campaign in Mar del Plata, Argentina on Oct. 24.

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Argentina heads for a general election Sunday—with the Peronist ticket widely expected to win, Boris Johnson once again calls for a snap election in Britain, and Lebanon’s government seeks a dialogue with protesters.

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Argentina heads for a general election Sunday—with the Peronist ticket widely expected to win, Boris Johnson once again calls for a snap election in Britain, and Lebanon’s government seeks a dialogue with protesters.

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Argentina Votes, With Its Economy at Stake

Argentina holds elections on Sunday, with the left-wing Peronists widely expected to win the presidency: The little-known opposition candidate Alberto Fernández—with former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as his running matedefeated incumbent President Mauricio Macri by 16 points in the primary in August. Now, polls show Fernández with a 20-point lead.

The failing economy is voters’ main concern. Macri won four years ago on the promise that he could finally make it right, but after he turned to the International Monetary Fund for a $56 billion bailout—the largest in IMF history—his government’s popularity collapsed. Now, Argentina faces soaring inflation, a plummeting peso, and a massive amount of debt.

[Macri was doomed from the start—but his failure could have far-reaching consequences, Benjamin N. Gedan writes for FP.]

What will the Peronists do? If Fernández and Kirchner win Sunday’s election, Argentina’s economic disaster will be theirs to address. Their top priority will be renegotiating Argentina’s debt—including the IMF bailout, the Financial Times reports. Fernández has been critical of the IMF, but he has also avoided speaking with international media during the campaign. The Argentine business community is wary of the economic policy he might pursue.

Watch the market. After Macri’s primary defeat was announced, Argentina’s stock market dropped by 48 percent, and the peso followed. Investors have now had months to prepare for a Fernández-Kirchner victory and the peso rate is under strict controls. Bloomberg reports that the bond market could be the quickest to react to Sunday’s elections—likely driven by the next president’s victory speech.


What We’re Following Today

Will Labour block Johnson’s call for an election again? British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to decide today whether to tell Labour members of Parliament to abstain from Monday’s vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for a general election on Dec. 12. He is awaiting confirmation of a Brexit extension from the European Union. Labour previously said it would back a snap election, but only if a no-deal Brexit could be ruled out. This is Johnson’s third attempt to force an election, though in making the call he has acknowledged for the first time that Britain won’t leave the European Union by the Oct. 31 deadline.

Protesters reject Lebanese president’s call for dialogue. In a speech on Thursday, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun called for a dialogue with protesters and suggested the possibility of a government reshuffle, after more than a week of rallies against corruption and the country’s ruling elite. Streets remain paralyzed and banks closed. The protests have continued despite reforms proposed on Monday, and activists rejected Aoun’s speech. “No one can negotiate on behalf of the street,” one protester told Reuters. “The ball is rolling and it’s not in favor of the government.”

U.S. career diplomats fear Trump’s retaliation. U.S. diplomats were again drawn into the House impeachment saga this week, when the White House castigated its own acting ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has not publicly defended Taylor or former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Now, career State Department officials who work on Ukraine issues fear retaliation if they speak on Capitol Hill, particularly as lower-level diplomats are called to testify, FP’s Robbie Gramer reports.


Keep an Eye On

The next Syrian refugee crisis. Greece is grappling with the biggest surge in refugee arrivals since 2015—and already overcrowded camps. As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens to make things worse by allowing refugees in Turkey to move onward toward Europe, it has raised uncomfortable questions about Europe’s readiness for a new refugee crisis, Yiannis Baboulias writes for FP.

Zimbabwe’s sanctioned day off. Amid economic crisis, Zimbabwe has declared today a public holiday, encouraging people to stay home in protest of U.S. sanctions against members of the ruling party. The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe responded that the United States is the country’s biggest donor, and that the sanctions aren’t fueling its economic problems.

Marine Le Pen’s new strategy. For months, France’s National Rally—previously the National Front—has been working to shed its pariah image as it campaigns for the March 2020 municipal elections. Marine Le Pen’s leadership has been central to this shift, as she invests in a new generation of local party activists and seeks to use the party’s wins in mayoral elections to pave a path to national power, Karina Piser writes for FP.

China’s reaction to Uighur’s prize. The Uighur economist Ilham Tohti has been awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize. Tohti has been detained in China since 2014 for criticizing the government. With Beijing hypersensitive over Xinjiang, the prize could provoke a furious reaction and seriously worsen China-EU relations, FP’s James Palmer writes.

For more news and analysis on stories like this, sign up for China Brief, delivered on Wednesdays.


Tune In

Later today on FP’s First Person podcast: Maha Yahya, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, speaks with deputy editor Sarah Wildman about how a proposal to tax WhatsApp in Lebanon triggered mass protests over government corruption and the economy.


Odds and Ends

The ban on climbing Australia’s Uluru—once known as Ayers Rock—takes effect on Saturday and today last-minute visitors were expected to crowd the pathway to the top. The landmark is regarded as sacred by the indigenous Anangu people, who campaigned for years to stop tourists from climbing it.


That’s it for today. 

For more on these stories and many others, visit foreignpolicy.com, subscribe here, or sign up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or corrections to morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.

Audrey Wilson is a senior editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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