Argentina's Macri has strong support despite devaluation: polls

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri speaks with British Prime Minister David Cameron (unseen) as they meet in hotel Belvedere during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s popularity is at about 65 percent two months after he narrowly won office and carried out a shock currency devaluation as part of his plan to revive Latin America’s No. 3 economy, two polls showed.

Macri, a conservative, had a popularity rating of 64 percent in one poll by the Poliarquia consultancy published on Friday and 67 percent in the latest survey from pollster Isonomia.

His tight election victory on Nov. 22 ended more than a decade of leftist rule and Macri has promised to overhaul interventionist policies that upset investors and the country’s farmers.

His first major step after taking office on Dec. 10 was to float Argentina’s peso currency. That triggered a 28 percent devaluation, but the polls released on Friday show Macri has won over many Argentines in his first weeks as president.

He could face pressure from opposition lawmakers in March when Congress returns from the Southern Hemisphere summer holidays and as wage talks begin with powerful public workers’ unions.

Macri will need Congress’ support to settle a politically fraught lawsuit with a group of New York hedge funds over defaulted debt.

Wage negotiations will be closely watched as Macri tries to bring inflation, which stands at around 25 percent, under control.

Macri has so far defied critics who said a sharp devaluation of the peso, now at 13.7 to the dollar, would be disastrous.

His government says the economy will grow between 0.5 and 1 percent this year, before accelerating to around 4.5 percent annually between 2017 and 2019.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Andrew Hay