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Argentina Elections 2015: Voters to Pick Replacement for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Argentina is voting to choose the country’s next president in a general election that ends 12 years of rule under the Kirchners.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has served two consecutive terms and, under Argentina’s constitution, cannot run again.

Cristina Fernandez’s hand-picked successor, left-winger Daniel Scioli, is leading polls.

However, Daniel Scioli he is expected to face stiff competition from Mauricio Macri, the centre-right mayor of Buenos Aires.

Another candidate, Sergio Massa, a former Kirchner ally, is polling behind Mauricio Macri, while there are three other names on the ballot paper.

Today is the first round of voting – if no candidate gets more than 45% of the vote, or gets a minimum of 40% as well as a 10-point lead, there will be a run-off on November 22.

Whoever wins the presidency faces significant economic challenges.

Photo AP

Photo AP

While Argentina gained strength after a financial crisis in 2002, its economy, the third largest in Latin America, has slowed down in recent years, with GDP growing by only 0.5% in 2014.

The government is also locked in a battle against American hedge funds who disagree with how is wants to restructure $100 billion of debt on which it defaulted in 2001.

While the companies successfully sued Argentina for repayment, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner refused to pay.

She succeeded her husband Nestor Kirchner as president. He died in 2010, three years after handing over the presidency to his wife.

Daniel Scioli, the governor of Buenos Aires province, is a former world powerboating champion who lost his right arm in a boat race in 1989.

Last week, he pledged tax cuts for middle-class workers earning under a certain income, a move expected to affect half a million people.

Daniel Scioli has also vowed to bring down Argentina’s inflation to single digits in less than four years and promises to introduce policy changes to invigorate the economy.

Like Daniel Scioli, Mauricio Macri is married to a former model. He is a former president of Boca Juniors, Argentina’s most successful soccer club.

While Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has sought to press Argentina’s claims for the disputed UK territory of the Falkland Islands, Daniel Scioli says he would not appoint a Falklands minister, and would seek closer ties with London.