Macri wins Argentina presidency

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Businessman says tasks to rebuild confidence in country, improve international relations, fight drug trafficking

Charles Newbery

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri won Argentina’s runoff presidential election Sunday, as voters called for change after 12 years of populist-left politics.

The 56-year-old conservative businessman won with 53 percent of the vote for Cambiemos, or Let’s Change, a coalition of centrist parties, according to a count of 85 percent of ballots by the National Electoral Board.

Macri beat Daniel Scioli, the 58-year-old governor of Buenos Aires province, who took 47 percent of the vote for Front for Victory, a populist-left party in power since 2003

“I want to thank you for believing that together we can build the Argentina we’ve always dreamed of,” Macri told supporters between applause and chants of “Macri president” and “Argentina,” at his bunker in Buenos Aires.

He said his task as president will be to rebuild confidence in Argentina, improve international relations and fight rising drug trafficking.

Scioli conceded defeat after 70 percent of the ballots were counted, saying he had called Macri to congratulate him.

“I put in my best and the people chose an alternative,” he said in a 10-minute speech from his bunker in the federal capital where supporters cried in the nearby Plaza de Mayo. “They opted for a change,” he said.

Argentina’s first-ever runoff election came after Macri narrowed a 10-point difference with Scioli in August during primary elections that included all parties.

Scioli’s lead shrunk to 2.5 points in the general elections last month and forced a second round of voting.

Macri will assume the presidency Dec. 10, the first change in command since the 1999-2001 rule of a similar centrist coalition. Peronism, a nationalist political movement, has ruled since then.

Macri focused his campaign on a hope for change, tapping into a growing demand as Argentinians have become weary of the combative style of politics that he said has divided the country for more than a decade.

Scioli chose to concentrate on raising concerns that Macri could implement austerity measures that he said would cut spending power and cause a surge in unemployment and poverty.

Argentina’s economy has been in stagnation since 2014 with some economists projecting it would remain as such until at least 2017.

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