Argentina's Peronists face painful defeat in midterms, polls show

COP26 in Glasgow
Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021. Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Argentina's Peronists are likely to suffer a major blow in midterm legislative elections, polls ahead of the Nov. 14 vote show, which could erase the ruling party's Senate majority as well as its strong position in the lower Chamber of Deputies.

The majority of surveys show the party of President Alberto Fernandez trailing by over 8 points behind the conservative opposition coalition Together for Change, with defeats likely in the populous city and province of Buenos Aires.

Defeat for the Peronists would be a hammer blow for Fernandez's reform plans in the second half of his term. It would likely embolden more radical factions in his party while forcing him to concede ground to the conservative right.

The party suffered a stinging loss in a September primary election, seen as a dry run for the November vote, which sparked a Cabinet reshuffle and a raft of spending measures to win back voters hit hard by the pandemic and years of economic decline.

A survey from pollster Management & Fit showed the conservative opposition well ahead on some 40% of the national vote versus 27.8% for the ruling Frente de Todos party, a slightly wider gap than in the primary vote.

Another from Ricardo Rouvier & Asociados had the opposition on 42.1%, ahead of 34.2% for the government.

"All the indicators and expectations prior to the election indicate great dissatisfaction among people about socioeconomic conditions and an anger provoked by the prolonged quarantines due to the pandemic," Rouvier said in the statement.

"The trends currently reflect that of the primary vote."

The opposition is seen cementing victory in the more conservative-leaning capital city, and more importantly in the province of the same name Buenos Aires, the largest region in the country and usually a stronghold for the Peronists.

A poll on Friday by consultancy Giacobbe & Asociados showed opposition candidate Diego Santilli on 44.1% compared to 35.8% for Victoria Tolosa Paz, the ruling party's candidate.

Argentina, a major global grains exporter, has seen a mild recovery in the economy this year and COVID-19 cases fall, but is grappling with rampant inflation and tight capital controls amid a lack of confidence in the peso currency.

The South American country is also locked in talks to revamp some $45 billion it cannot repay to the International Monetary Fund, a deal which needs to be ratified by Congress.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Nick Macfie

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