Generational divide evident in votes

A closer look at the results shows clear cut transfer of votes toward Lousteau from Recalde

por Federico Poore
Buenos Aires Herald, 21-07-2015

The division — or “chasm,” as many like to call it — between Kirchnerites and anti-Kirchnerites is well known. But Sunday’s mayoral runoff elections in the City showed how the generational divide among porteños could be just as strong.

A close analysis of the results reveals a clear difference between the preferences of younger and older City residents, revealing that several diverse neighbourhoods are not quite as uniform as the inital results had suggested.

Although the first results that were revealed yesterday were divided by communes, subsequent analyses by politologist Andrés Tow revealed subtle yet major differences between neighbourhoods, especially in communes where elected-mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta appeared to receive the most votes.

The most striking case is Commune 1, a multi-class area home to neighbourhoods as varied as Puerto Madero, Constitución or Retiro where Rodríguez Larreta mustered 55.32 percent of valid votes.

In Retiro, for instance, there is a major divide that is clearly marked by Del Libertador Avenue. In the so-called Electoral Circuit No. 8, which comprises the expensive blocks surrounding Plaza San Martín, Mauricio Macri’s Cabinet chief received a landslide 66 percent against Lousteau’s 34 percent.

But across Del Libertador Avenue, the picture changes entirely: in Electoral Circuit No. 5, which includes thousands of people who live in the Villa 31 shantytown, the ECO leader easily beat Rodríguez Larreta with 58.8 percent of the vote to 41.2 percent.

Tow says the reason is likely grounded in all those voters who switched preferences from Victory Front (FpV) mayoral hopeful Mariano Recalde — who failed to make it through to the runoff — to Lousteau, based on the fact that on July 5, the Kirchnerite contender received a striking 51.2 percent of votes at polling stations set up around the City’s most impoverished neighbourhood.

“There was a significant transfer of votes from Recalde to Lousteau,” Tow told the Herald. “It’s a simple mathematical equation: Lousteau went from 25 to 48 percent of votes — a 23-point increase that cannot be explained with only leftist votes.”

The political scientist pointed out two relevant facts. One: Recalde did not explicitly call on voters to back Lousteau’s bid for City Hall after the July 5 elections. Two: Lousteau pulled off his best performances “in the circuits where the FpV had fared reasonably well in the previous election.”

Lousteau also won communes 3, 5 and 15, where leftist parties had performed best in previous elections, despite the fact that Workers’ Leftist Front (FIT) candidate Myriam Bregman and Self-Determination and Freedom (AyL) leader Luis Zamora had called on residents to cast a blank vote. In those communes, Lousteau mustered an average 27 percent more of votes than two weeks ago.

Tow’s conclusion? “People are not paying that much attention to political leaders when they go and cast their ballot.”

Younger appeal

A similar phenomenon was seen in Palermo, a big commune where the PRO won after receiving 58.75 percent of all valid votes.

Rodríguez Larreta managed an easy win in the high-income neighbourhoods surrounding the Botanical Garden, the Malba museum and the area where most embassies are located. In Electoral Circuit No. 150, home to the Parque Tres de Febrero (commonly known as the Palermo Woods) Macri’s protegé received almost 78 percent of the votes.

But a few blocks down the road, in the more trendy areas known as Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho, Lousteau was the one who received the most votes. In these two regions plus Colegiales — home to a part of BA’s audiovisual district — the ECO candidate, a regular columnist in Radio Metro, defeated Rodríguez Larreta by almost 10 percentage points.

Pollster Analía del Franco, who worked for Recalde in this year’s local election, said that Lousteau’s “bohemian, trangressive looks” certainly helped him to win the preferences of the younger age brackets, unlike Rodríguez Larreta “an older man who is more linked to the City’s day-to-day administration.”

The transfer of Kirchnerite votes to the former economy minister “certainly rejuvenated Lousteau,” she said.

In previous electoral rounds, the ECO contender had received the most votes from the 30-to-49 age bracket. But many young Kirchnerite voters apparently decided to back Lousteau this time around.

“It’s like the French say, in the first round you vote what you like, in the second you vote what you believe is best for you,” the pollster told the Herald.

Political scientist María Esperanza Casullo appears to agree with that theory, but adds a new factor to the mix — Lousteau’s solid performance in the southern areas of BA.

“If we analyze the components of the runoff vote we’ll see a certain degree of insatisfaction among southern citizens with the way the Macri administration is running the City,” Casullo told the Herald. “That’s an interesting fact because the PRO appeared to be armoured against any criticism in that sense.”

According to Casullo, one of the editors of the Artepolítica news website, this might be a call to attention for the centre-right political force, who after years of easy elections had found itself winning last Sunday’s electoral race by only three points.

“Now it seems the chickens are coming home to roost,” Casullo said, in perfect English.