In Election Year, Argentines Sharply Divided Over Globalization
Argentina’s election of a pro-market president three years ago did not settle its national debate over free trade and the impact of globalization, and sharp partisan divisions remain in the run-up to the country’s October presidential election, according to a new poll by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Poliarquía.
The national survey, conducted in February, found Argentines equally divided over globalization, with one-third of the population holding a positive view of global integration and an equal number critical of the process. A final third of Argentines see no effect on the country.
The same is true regarding views of free trade. Argentina, one of the world’s most closed economies, is led by a pro-trade president who has pledged to reform the Mercosur customs union, alongside Brazil’s conservative president, Jair Bolsonaro. Nevertheless, 40 percent of Argentines still say they favor trade protectionism, according to the new poll.
“Given Argentina’s economic struggles, this is a tough time to increase competition for local businesses,” said Benjamin N. Gedan, the director of the Wilson Center’s Argentina Project and a former South America director on the National Security Council. “But this poll shows a broader challenge for Argentina’s government, much of the country is simply unconvinced of the value of free trade.”
The ArgentinaPulse survey – a collaboration between the Wilson Center’s Argentina Project and Poliarquía Consultores, Argentina’s leading polling firm – found that perspectives on trade are closely tied to party affiliation, raising the stakes for Argentina’s presidential election.
Seventy-three percent of President Mauricio Macri’s supporters favor free trade, compared to only 20 percent of supporters of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is trying to return to the Casa Rosada.

“The divisions in Argentine society are not only about the style of leadership they want, but clearly about policies, as the survey shows,” Alejandro Catterberg, a leading Argentine political analyst and the president of Poliarquía Consultores, said.


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ArgentinaPulse is a joint undertaking of Poliarquía Consultores and the Argentina Project at the Wilson Center. The aim of ArgentinaPulse is to produce, scientifically and systematically, analysis and public opinion data on Argentines’ perceptions of the world order, international relations, and global issues. Poliarquía Consultores provides ArgentinaPulse with the technical capacity to produce high-quality social research, while the Wilson Center contributes its expertise studying international affairs.