By Nicolás Misculin
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s center-left President Alberto Fernandez, struggling in opinion polls ahead of elections next year, wasted no time in rushing to Brazil to congratulate political ally Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva after a dramatic win at the ballot box on Sunday.
The Argentine leader and Brazil’s President-elect, known usually just as “Lula”, met on Monday, pledging a “new era” for the region, where leftist governments have in recent years taken control of major local economies from Colombia to Mexico.
But any hope for a Lula bump for Fernandez will likely be in vain, political analysts said, as Argentina battles near 100% inflation, pressure to cut spending and rising risk of default, which have all caused rifts in the ruling Peronist coalition.
“In Argentina we have a government coalition that is divided. It cannot solve the issues people are worried about,” said Mariel Fornoni, director of the public opinion consulting firm Management & Fit.
Most Argentines want change.
President Fernandez, powerful Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Economy Minister Sergio Massa, all languish on around 30% positive image, according to an October survey by pollster Ricardo Rouvier & Associates.
Meanwhile leaders of the center-right opposition such as Buenos Aires city mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta and former defense minister Patricia Bullrich, stand at around 50%, a lead which helped the opposition win big in midterms last year.
Lula, a 77-year-old former metalworker who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, won a narrow victory over far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro with 50.9% to 49.1%. He will take over a Brazil politically divided, but where the economy is humming – unlike Argentina.
“Lula’s victory, which was narrow, is in no way transferable given internal splits (in Peronism) and the wider environment. I don’t think this will change the electoral scenario in Argentina at all,” political analyst Sergio Berensztein told Reuters.
Argentina’s ruling ‘Frente de Todos’ coalition is fractured, with no clarity yet who would be it its main candidate in the elections planned for October next year.
Lula, after his win, wore a cap in support of VP Fernandez de Kirchner. President Fernandez meanwhile said Lula would make his first overseas visit to Argentina once in office, a reversal from cool ties under Bolsonaro between the trade partners.
Julio Burdman, director of the Electoral Observatory consultancy in Argentina, said political leaders were talking up the symbolism and impact of the new shift to the left, but added it was more rhetoric than reality.
“I think this has more to do with politicians’ views than the real effect of the election on actual people,” he said.
(Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Editing by Adam Jourdan, Alexandra Hudson)