Buenos Aires, Oct 27 (efe-epa).- Argentines have begun casting votes in presidential elections amid one of the worst economic crises the country has ever seen.
The country’s 33.8 million eligible voters will decide either to stick with the status quo by re-electing Mauricio Macri or to return to Peronism with Alberto Fernandez.
“The election operation is up and running, with polling stations opening as normally, there is, therefore, no excuse not to go out and vote, not to express yourself, vote for what you believe in,” the current chief of the Cabinet of Minister, Marcos Peña, told the press.
Around 100,000 members of the military and security forces have been deployed to maintain order at 100,185 stations across the South American nation.
According to the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the initial vote count this evening, early results will be made available at around 9 pm local time (midnight GMT), once at least 90 percent of the ballot papers are accounted for.
The Ministry of Justice, charged with the definitive count, will declare the official result on Tuesday.
Voting has been obligatory for people aged between 18-70 since 2003, while it remains optional for youngsters between 16-17 and those over 70.
If the primary results are repeated, Fernandez will take power on 10 December with no need for the runoff provisionally scheduled for 24 November, his running mate being former president Cristina Fernandez (no relation).
In the primary results in August, Fernandez topped Macri by 16 percent.
But Macri, 60, is not about to concede defeat despite the punishing vote he suffered in the primaries due to his management of an economy in recession for the past 18 months, with inflation of more than 50 percent, and soaring indexes of poverty (35 percent) and unemployment (10.6 percent).
To avoid a runoff, a candidate must obtain at least 45 percent of the vote or take more than 40 percent and be 10 points adrift of the nearest rival.
Argentine voters will also elect 130 seats in the lower Parliament and 24 in the Senate.