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Chosen successor Scioli leads in Argentina's election: exit polls

As counting got underway after elections in Argentina, the chosen successor of President Cristina Kirchner was reported to be leading. But his conservative rival could take the race to a runoff.

Daniel Scioli

Daniel Scioli hopes to succeed outgoing President Cristina Kirchner

Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli was leading Argentina's presidential election race as counting got under way Sunday.

But exit polls gave second place to his conservative rival, the favorite of the business community, Mauricio Macri. "There will be a run-off according to our data, based on exit polls," said Marcos Pena, the chief campaign strategist for Macri.

Under Argentine election law, Scioli has to take more than 45 percent of the vote, or 40 percent with a margin of ten points over the runner-up to win outright in the first round.

It was unclear if Scioli will avoid a runoff poll with Macri to decide the outcome. The second vote will be held on November 22 if necessary.

Mauricio Macri

Opposition candidate Mauricio Macri could face Daniel Scioli in a runoff ballot

The 58-year-old Scioli was vice president to the late Nestor Kirchner from 2003 to 2007. He is the chosen successor of Kirchner's widow, President Cristina Kirchner.

Television analysts put Scioli in the lead and Macri in second. Ahead of the vote, the final polls had Scioli at 40 percent and Macri at 30 percent support.

Scioli has stood on a platform of continuing the Kirchner tradition in government - trade protectionism, social welfare and the defense of working class interests. But his economic team shows strong free-market leanings, and he has promised to attract more investment and to increase productivity.

Sporting metaphors abounded as the political leaders went to the polls on Sunday. Scioli, the mayor of Buenos Aires, is a former football executive. He heralded the progress of the Argentine rugby team into the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup being played in England. "They are what Argentina should be - with that grit, that pride, that strength to wear the Argentine jersey," Scioli said.

Macri called the Argentine team, the Pumas, "an example of the Argentina we all want."

Argentina lost their Rugby World Cup match on Sunday, going down 29-15 to Australia.

jm/gsw (EFE, AFP)

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