Anti-Peronist opposition poised for victory in Argentine presidential race
October 24, 1999
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- (CNN) Exit polls gave the anti-Peronist opposition candidate, Fernando de la Rua a crushing victory in a presidential race that saw 24 million Argentines go to the polls Sunday.
Horn honking erupted in Buenos Aires as De la Rua supporters toasted the results of the exit poll, one of two showing a similar big victory for the Buenos Aires mayor. De la Rua himself had expressed confidence throughout the day. "We did our campaign job," he said while casting his vote Sunday.
De la Rua, the mayor of Buenos Aires, scored just over 51 percent of the ballot to 35 percent for , the candidate of Menem's Peronist Party and governor of Buenos Aires province, an exit poll broadcast by Radio Continental indicated. The poll was released moments after the balloting ended.
The earliest preliminary returns were not expected for hours, but exit polls have been accurate in past elections.
Menem, who voted in his native La Rioja Province, had scoffed earlier at campaign polls suggesting his ruling Peronist party was headed for a resounding defeat in the presidential ballot.
"If I had been permitted to run, I am sure I would have won. But I still have time for a future presidential election," said Menem before flying back to the capital later Sunday.
Menem flirted with candidacy
Menem had flirted with seeking an unprecedented third straight term, but was barred by a constitutional prohibition and has said he will run again in 2003.
A victory for center-left De la Rua would mean the end 10 years of unbroken Peronist Party rule in the fourth national election since Democracy was restored in 1983.
De la Rua, a fiscal conservative, has said he will crack down on graft and corruption while Duhalde said more needs to be done to combat an economic recession that has resulted in double-digit unemployment.
Both candidates have said they will keep the peso pegged to the U.S. dollar, a policy credited with keeping inflation at bay.
Focus is on Buenos Aires governorship
Meanwhile, with Peronist hopes for retaining the presidency appearing slim, much of the interest surrounding the polling has focused on the governorship of Buenos Aires, where about one-third of Argentines live.
An Alliance president would have a difficult time governing without the support of the region. The Peronists have a majority in the Senate, not up for grabs in Sunday's election, and a strong vote in the House.
Vice President Carlos Ruckauf, a Peronist, and human rights campaigner Graciela Fernandez Meijide, of the Alliance, have fought a bitter battle for the governor's slot, and analysts said the race was too close to call at the finish line.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Opposition mayor favored for Argentine presidency in Sunday ballot
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