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Argentina is headed for a presidential runoff after the two top vote-getters – the economy minister and a right-wing legislator – failed to garner enough support to win the election outright, the BBC reported Monday.

The favorite, Javier Milei, a brash libertarian congressman who rallied young voters enraged at a Peronista government that has struggled against the country’s worst economic crisis in two decades, was widely expected to lead the first round of voting Sunday.

Instead, former lawmaker Sergio Massa, who has been warning of the impacts of a possible Milei presidency, took the lead with 36 percent of the vote to Milei’s 30 percent. Massa, the minister overseeing the crumbling economy, had portrayed himself as the moderate and pragmatic leader the country needs, one where 40 percent live in poverty and prices increase every week.

The runoff election, to be held Nov. 19, will essentially pit the establishment left against a man who has vowed to destroy it, the Washington Post wrote.

With the peso currency plummeting and inflation at nearly 140 percent, a large swath of voters in this nation of 46 million have demanded change. In Milei, an admirer of former US president Donald Trump, they found a candidate who promises to blow up the entire system. Running on attacks against the country’s political “caste,” he has proposed shutting down the central bank, dollarizing the economy and taking a “chain saw” to government spending.

His attacks on the peso sent shock waves through the economy. Days after his primary win, the peso collapsed and inflation spiked.

Still, in a country where public services are heavily subsidized, and where the leftist party of former leaders Juan and Eva “Evita” Peron has dominated politics for decades, many were unwilling to gamble on Milei.

But Massa, who finished third in the 2015 presidential election, is also a problematic candidate, analysts said. While he has tried to distance himself from the unpopular administration of President Alberto Fernández following the primaries, Massa pledged to expand welfare benefits for large segments of the population – and slash income taxes.

That would likely threaten a deal with the International Monetary Fund that calls for cuts to government spending.

Fernández opted out of running for reelection.

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