Argentina's Scioli walks tightrope in hunt for party faithful, swing voters

martes 14 de abril de 2015 11:36 GYT

By Richard Lough and Nicolás Misculin

LANUS, Argentina, April 14 (Reuters) - Daniel Scioli, the front-running candidate for the ruling party ticket in Argentina's presidential election, has a new buzz word: "gradualismo", or "gradual change".

It is hardly a slogan to set the campaign trail ablaze ahead of the October 25 election. Instead it illustrates the tightrope act he needs to pull off as he tries to win the support of outgoing leftist President Cristina Fernandez's loyalists while tapping a rich vein of undecided voters demanding change.

Argentina's next president will inherit a broken economy by most standards: inflation running at 20-25 percent, low foreign reserves, a gaping fiscal deficit fuelled by hefty subsidies, negative real interest rates and a debt default.

Scioli, a 58-year-old former power boat champion who lost his right arm in a crash in 1989, is governor of Argentina's most populous province, Buenos Aires.

A moderate within the broad Peronist movement that has ruled Argentina for all but eight years since the return of democracy in 1983, he is more pragmatic and pro-market than Fernandez and says policy changes are needed to get the economy moving.

But he says he will move carefully rather than the fast approach proposed by his main rival Mauricio Macri, the conservative mayor of Buenos Aires city.

"We believe in doing everything slowly so that the social effects aren't too severe," said Jorge Telerman, Scioli's campaign spokesman.

Scioli's first task is to win the ruling Front for Victory's primary election in August and lock in its supporters, who could make up 30 percent of voters. Without that, his presidential bid is dead.   Continuación...