BUENOS AIRES – With 81 percent of the precincts tallied, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s Front for Victory appears to have retained the governorship of the northern province of Tucuman amid criticism of the slow vote count and complaints of irregularities.
The Front for Victory candidate, Juan Manzur, so far has obtained 54.42 percent of the votes, almost 14 percent more than rival Jose Cano, representing an opposition alliance.
Federal Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez (no relation to the president) on Monday hailed the “clear victory” of the former health minister, who, if the preliminary results are confirmed, will succeed Jose Alperovich as the governor of Tucuman.
In his daily press conference, Fernandez played down accusations of fraud.
“They’re calling fraud things that happen naturally everywhere that people don’t want to admit and accept that they have been defeated. It’s a natural thing and I don’t see any reason that it should slow down the election process,” he said.
Among the irregularities being claimed is the alleged buying of votes with bags of food and the discovery of at least one ballot box that already contained ballots before the start of the voting.
The secretary of the provincial election board, Dario Almaraz, said that at least 42 ballot boxes were burned in the province and he said he regretted the “criminal violence” that had occurred surrounding the election in some towns.
In remarks to Millenium radio, Almaraz said that six police officers had been injured and three of them had to be hospitalized.
The two front-runners in the race for the Oct. 25 ballot to choose a new president, the ruling party’s Daniel Scioli and right-winger Mauricio Macri, on Sunday night traveled to San Miguel de Tucuman to lend their support to their provincial candidates.
“Very serious complaints, of great violence, are arriving. Therefore, I want to ask the governor and the candidate for president of the Front for Victory, who is here, to guarantee that the vote count proceeds peacefully,” said Macri from Cano’s campaign HQ.
Scioli hailed Manzur’s triumph and asked that “the losers show signs of maturity and responsibility by accepting the results.”
The Tucuman election is the first electoral test after the general primaries on Aug. 9, in which Scioli garnered the most votes – 38.4 percent – followed by Macri with 24.28 percent.