Argentina is on the threshold of historic change.
On Sunday, the country votes for the third time since our August arrival. This time it will be decisive, with a final choice between two candidates with distinct political philosophies.
The whole country is gripped by an unexpectedly close contest between these colourful candidates. Every conversation around us is punctuated by two words, Macri and Scioli.
Cambiemos candidate Mauricio Macri, a past pupil of our school, Colegio Cardenal Newman, is the former mayor of Buenos Aires City and a previous president of Boca Juniors football club.
FPV`s Daniel Scioli is the Peronist Government`s candidate and former Governor of Buenos Aires Province . He is the chosen successor of Cristina Kirchner who has been president for eight years, following her husband`s four year reign. Scioli is a former world powerboat champion who lost his arm in a boating accident.
Scioli`s surprise failure to win the last round convincingly has forced a ballotage or head-to-head vote
Both speak of change, Macri promises instant change and a move to market-orientated policies while Scioli speaks of a more gradual move away from the Government`s protectionist policies.
Argentina has big problems.
While government statistics claim that Argentina has one of the world`s lowest poverty rates, there is obvious abject poverty all around us.
There is a huge social divide with shanty towns ‘villas’ right outside wealthy gated-communities.
The public education system is creaking and needs a major overhaul. Argentina once had a highly regarded education system but in the PISA 2012 education rankings, Argentina came 59th of 65 nations and sixth out of the eight tested Latin American countries.
The economy is in big trouble so the government operates a range of measures to stem the flow of capital from the country. But many people tell us how corruption is strangling any economic growth.
We shop for Argentinian made products as imported goods are prohibitively expensive. Items which Argentina doesn’t produce can’t be bought for a realistic price or are unavailable for purchase.
Argentina has cash-flow problems and low reserves but is still virtually excluded from international bond markets since its debt default in 2001.
Polls predict a Macri victory, ending twelve years of Peronist power.
Both candidates speak of change but whoever wins it`s going to be a difficult road ahead.