Neither Sergio Massa, nor Javier Milei: what does the Constitution say about blank votes in a runoff

2023-10-29 21:36:02

After the defeat in the general elections on October 22, Together for Change has a dilemma: vote for Sergio Massa or Javier Milei in the runoff? This situation generated a break in the opposition coalition, after Mauricio Macri and Patricia Bullrich, both from the PRO, expressed their public support for the presidential candidate for La Libertad Avanza in order to harm the Unión por la Patria candidate.

The thing is that other joint-change sectors, such as the Radical Civic Union (UCR) and the Civic Coalition (CC), decided to remain “neutral” and vote blank on November 19. This option gained relevance in the political discussion and several doubts among the voter about whether the blank vote favors either candidate. In fact, the leader of the CC, Elisa Carrió, anticipated that she will vote blank and clarified that this does not imply that she will “favor” the candidate with the most votes.

According to the National Electoral Chamber (CNE), the blank vote “represents a manifestation of the electorate’s will to abstain from choosing between the various proposals formulated in a legal suffrage system.” In order to do this, the empty envelope or one with colored paper, without images or inscriptions, must be placed in the ballot box. The CNE is the entity destined to regulate and organize all national electoral processes, so the details remain in its hands.

In this sense, the National Constitution does not explain the specific functioning of the elections, but it does account for citizen rights in politics. According to article 37, “the full exercise of political rights is guaranteed, in accordance with the principle of popular sovereignty and the laws that are enacted accordingly.” “Suffrage is universal, equal, secret and obligatory,” the Magna Carta underlines.

How the blank vote is counted in the runoff

In a runoff, neither the blank vote nor the contested vote count. This is because only those affirmative votes (for a candidate or his competitor) are taken into account. Logically, a blank or null vote does not favor either of the two. However, some leaders of Together for Change criticized their colleagues who recommended this action.

The aforementioned Macri, founder of the PRO and co-founder of Cambiemos (today Together for Change), assured that radicalism “traded” with the ruling party and questioned that “under false neutrality they dedicate themselves to supporting Massa.” Even so, other sectors preferred to remain distant in this runoff and have already announced that they will vote blank, insisting that it does not benefit any candidate.

All about the runoff

The 2023 presidential runoff will be held on Sunday, November 19 between Massa (Unión por la Patria) and Milei (La Libertad Avanza). Article 96 of the National Constitution maintains that “the second electoral round, if applicable, will be held between the two candidate formulas with the most votes, within thirty days of the previous one.”

However, after its appearance in the 1995 reform, it took 20 years to be implemented for the first time. The most particular was that of Carlos Menem, who had even surpassed Néstor Kirchner in the first round in 2003 and decided to drop out, thus giving rise to Kirchnerism. The second, between Daniel Scioli and Macri, ended up proclaiming the latter as president between 2015 and 2019.

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