Macri refuses to throw in towel after Argentine primary drubbing, currency's plunge

Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and running mate former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during their closing campaign rally ahead of primary elections

Markets panicked as the peso closed at 57.30 to the dollar, a drop of 18.76 per cent from its Friday closing figure, while the Merval index crashed 38 percent by close.

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Argentina's incumbent President and presidential candidate Mauricio Macri is seen on stage during the primary elections, at a convention centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 11, 2019.

Argentina's peso currency collapsed on Monday and inflation was expected to rise as voters flirted with a return to interventionist economics by snubbing market-friendly Macri for the opposition in a primary vote on Sunday.

Ms Kirchner said: "We know of the hard moment that the country is going through, of millions of Argentines who have lost their jobs, we have talked with so many, we know what it is".

Macri said he would "reverse" the result of Sunday's primary, but acknowledged that a weaker peso triggered by the surge in support for Peronist opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running mate former President Cristina Fernandez would fuel inflation.

"This is about the past, there's a ton of people who don't keep their money in this country, who are leaving this country".

Cristina Fernandez is now facing a series of trials for corruption during her 2007-2015 administration.

"We don't want that: Argentine brothers fleeing over here, seeing how terrible it could get if the result of the vote yesterday is confirmed in October", he said.

"The Kirchnerist alternative has no credibility in the world".

But many in Argentina have a negative view of the International Monetary Fund and austerity policies, which they blamed for the country's worst economic crisis in 2001.

"The president can not have peace of mind. We are living a fictitious economy and the government is not giving answers", Fernandez said in a radio interview on Monday morning.

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At the time, his victory appeared to signal a clear end to his rival's rule, but he conceded that Sunday's results put him on the defensive.

The pro-business Macri has the support of financial markets and Washington, but has lost popularity amid a deep economic crisis that drove the inflation rate to almost 50% previous year and slashed Argentines' purchasing power.

Poverty now affects 32 per cent of the population.

The worst-hit shares lost nearly 50 per cent of their value.

Argentine stock and bond prices were expected to slide when financial markets opened on Monday because Fernandez's lead far exceeded the margin of 2-8 percent forecast in recent opinion polls.

"Recognizing that we have had a bad election, that forces us, starting tomorrow, to redouble our efforts so that in October we will get the support that is needed to continue the change", Macri said.

Political analyst Sergio Berensztein described it as the government's "worst political crisis".

"We will reverse yesterday's bad result and we will have a closer election" in the October 27 first round, Macri said, flaked by vice presidential candidate Miguel Angel Pichetto.

In order to win the presidency outright, a candidate needs at least 45 percent of the vote or 40 percent and a difference of 10 percentage points over the second-place runner.

"We always fixed problems that others generated".

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