Macri and Vidal present united front
The decision to hold both elections simultaneously will be a relief for Mr Macri and his influential chief of staff, Marcos Peña. It is a risk for Ms Vidal, Argentina's most popular politician and MrMacri's ally in the ruling Cambiemos coalition. For Mr Macri, sharing the electoral ticket with Ms Vidal is a vote winner; for Ms Vidal, as intimated by opinion polls, it is a potential vote loser. For this reason, there was speculation that some members of MsVidal's team would try to bring the provincial elections forward to mid-2019, both to facilitate the governor's re-election and to strengthen Cambiemos before the presidential vote.
Apart from providing the coalition with some solid momentum, an early vote could have secured powerful Peronist mayors in their positions at mid-year, freeing them to distance themselves from Mr Macri's presidential rival, the former Peronist president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner—in essence, denying Ms Fernández the benefit of the Peronist party machinery in Buenos Aires. Mr Macri and Mr Peña, however, remained unconvinced, and want thegovernor to campaign alongside Mr Macri, who needs a strong showing in Buenos Aires to secure re-election. Ms Vidal has been with Mr Macri at several events already in recent weeks, presenting a united front.
Although Buenos Aires province will not, at least nine Argentinian provinces will bring forward their local elections toseparate them from the national vote, as local provincial governors (representing various currents within Peronism) attempt to insulate themselves from an uncertain presidential race. Although local issues will of course be at play in these races, this early kick-off to an election year will be an important test of national sentiment towards the government and towards the various strands of the heterogeneous Peronist party, including a left-wing faction that supports Ms Fernández and various pragmatic, more technocratic groupings. We will be watching these races, and the run-up to the presidential open primary elections in August, closely.
Impact on the forecast
Our forecast currently assumes that Mr Macri will be re-elected, and the latest events support this. However, we still see strong risks to this assumption, stemming from the strength (or weakness) of this year's economic recovery.