Argentina Debate: Daniel Scioli Battles Mauricio Macri While Trailing In Presidential Election Polls

Although Daniel Scioli declined to debate Mauricio Macri last month before the Argentinian presidential debates narrowed down to just the two of them, the Frente para La Victoria (FpV) candidate was eager to face off against the Cambiemos (PRO) candidate Sunday evening.

Early in the Argentina Debates, Mauricio got a very strong positive response on social media when he confronted Daniel about hotly contested poverty statistics that Cristina Kirchner’s government has released. Macri bluntly asked Scioli if he felt that he could stand by the official numbers that are backed by the current administration, given that several independent studies have found much higher rates of poverty, as well as steeper inflation.

“When the president says poverty is below 5%, is she lying or is she telling the truth?”

Mauricio also confronted Daniel with a controversial comment made by Cabinet Minister Ánibal Fernández earlier this year about the poverty statistics. When asked about the veracity of the official number of Argentines living in poverty, he claimed that the country had been more successful in the fight against poverty than several other first-world countries. Fernández used Germany as an example of a place that “wasn’t doing well in terms of poverty,” reported La Nación.

“Yes, even if you don’t like it and it bothers you to accept it. It’s a question of… government data and seeing how they respond to structural poverty. You don’t have to be a genius, or even have friends who are German spies.”

Mauricio Macri Daniel Scioli Argentina debate
Daniel Scioli and Mauricio Macri kept current president Cristina Kirchner's actions firmly rooted in the debate. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Scioli declined to give a “yes” or “no” answer to Mauricio about the reliability of these numbers, and Marci was quick to make sure that it was noticed. He began his next chance to speak by calling out Daniel for not answering his question, “just as he’s failed to do for journalists.” Supporters of Scioli say that Mauricio failed to do the same later when it came to answering questions about currency devaluation and other economic effects that could occur from the neoliberal policies that Macri would bring to Argentina.

Much of the Argentina’s debate leading up to the election has centered around whether or not Mauricio’s policies would push the country back to the devastating crisis it experienced at the beginning of the 2000s. Opponents of Macri claim that he aims to implement the same ideas as Carlos Menem, the president whose neoliberalism many consider responsible for the state of affairs in 2001. Daniel sought to further this association when he tied Mauricio to the International Monetary Fund and the so-called “Vulture Funds” that hold a large portion of Argentina’s massive external debate.

“Who will pay the costs of the economic adjustments that you are proposing?… There is a triangle of progress: businesspeople, the workers and our government proposals and a triangle of regression: the vulture funds, the IMF and your proposals.”

Argentina debate Mauricio Macri Daniel Scioli
Mauricio Macri used the debate to defend his term as mayor of Buenos Aires, something Daniel Scioli repeatedly referred to. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The debate briefly touched on foreign policy when it moved out of Argentina to Venezuela, which has faced runaway inflation and accusations of government crackdown while retaining support from the Kirchner government. Macri said that he would seek to eliminate connections with the country, while Daniel vowed to stay closely linked with all of the region’s nations.

With just one week following the Argentina debates before the elections, Mauricio Macri has placed ahead of Daniel Scioli in the majority of pre-election polls. One of them will be chosen as the next president of Argentina next Sunday.

[Image via Harold Cunningham and Quique Kierszenbaum/Getty Images]