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Ibarra Leads Buenos Aires Race

May 8, 2000

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ A candidate from the ruling Alliance party of President Fernando de la Rua was headed for a win in the first round of elections to choose the mayor of Buenos Aires, preliminary voting showed Sunday.

With 37 percent of the vote counted, Anibal Ibarra, a 42-year-old former federal prosecutor, led with 49 percent of the ballot to 33 percent for Domingo Cavallo, a former economic minister under President Carlos Menem.

A victory garnering more than 50 percent of the vote is needed to claim an outright majority and to avoid a runoff. Official returns were expected Monday.

Sunday’s vote was widely perceived to be a referendum on the five-month old presidency of De la Rua, who assumed office Dec. 10. Ibarra was believed to have benefitted from a strong anti-Cavallo sentiment among voters.

Before taking office, De la Rua was the first elected mayor of Buenos Aires, a position previously named by the federal government. Buenos Aires is considered a political stronghold for De la Rua and his center-left Alliance party.

Voters on Sunday also cast ballots for 60 seats on the city council, where the Alliance was expected to retain a majority of the seats.

The election for mayor appeared to deal another devastating blow to Menem’s Peronist party. With support from one of Argentina’s most powerful parties spread among three candidates, the leading Peronist candidate, Raul Granillo Ocampo, mustered just one percent of the vote, according to initial ballot returns.

Of the remaining candidates for mayor, seven were from smaller leftists parties and three from lesser-known rightist parties.

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