UPDATE 3-Official candidate ahead in Argentine presidential primary -polls
(Recast with exit poll results)
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES Aug 9 (Reuters) - Ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli was ahead in Argentina's presidential primary on Sunday, according to TV exit polls that showed voters tending toward the Buenos Aires governor's policy of gradual change after eight years of leftist government.
Scioli is in outgoing President Cristina Fernandez's Front for Victory party, and has said he favors slowly changing her policies, which include heavy state control of the economy.
The presidential election, in which Fernandez is banned from running for a third consecutive term, is on Oct. 25. Running second in Sunday's primary was Mauricio Macri, the business-friendly mayor of the capital city whose goal is to do well enough in the October vote to force a November run-off.
The primary is set up for each party to choose its presidential candidate, but with voters free to cross party lines, Sunday's vote will be a dry run ahead of the October election.
Both leading candidates are former businessmen with more orthodox policies than Fernandez, whose high public spending has drained fiscal accounts and fueled inflation while currency and trade controls slowed investment.
Macri promises to quickly free the markets. Scioli says "gradualism" is the best way to open the economy while preserving the strong social safety net weaved together by Fernandez since she first took power in 2007.
Macri competed with two much less popular members of his Cambiemos, or "Let's Change," coalition in Sunday's vote. Scioli ran unopposed in the Front for Victory primary. Continuación...