Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (not pictured) hold a news conference, at the Foreign Ministry building Palacio San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina, January 28, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian
By Lucila Sigal
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -Argentine President Alberto Fernandez will not run in the country’s October general election, the center-left leader announced on Friday, throwing open a race to lead the ruling Peronist coalition at the ballot amid swirling economic crisis.
In a video message, Fernandez, who came into office in late 2019, said he would “hand over the presidential sash to whomever has been legitimately elected at the polls by the popular vote” and not seek a second term in office.
The Peronists, Argentina’s foremost political power, are reeling in opinion polls with inflation running at over 100% and dwindling dollar reserves, with infighting between factions over who should be its main presidential candidate.
There had been pressure for a decision from the leftist wing commanded by powerful Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who served as president from 2007-2015 and has at times been at loggerheads with Fernandez, not a relation.
The move, which could boost the Peronists’ chance of winning the election according to polls, comes amid a deep economic crisis with soaring prices pushing up poverty to near 40%, hammering voters’ earning and spending power.
Mauricio Macri, the leader of the main center-right opposition party, who succeeded Fernandez de Kirchner as president from 2015 to 2019, said last month he would not run for presidency either.