The Interior Ministry confirmed that electoral participation in PASO 2021 was 66.21 percent. The data arises as a corollary of the completion of the provisional vote count that determined that 22,765,590 people from a register of 34,385,460 attended to vote.
Voting in the Primaries is mandatory for Argentines of legal age, up to 70 years of age, regardless of whether they are affiliated with a political party or not. The absence can be justified by being more than 500 km away, or for medical reasons or related to the pandemic. As of 2012, young people between the ages of 16 and 18 were allowed to vote, albeit on an optional basis.
Until today’s elections, the lowest level in the PASO had occurred in 2015 with 74.91% turnout at the polls, according to official numbers.
Legislative elections tend to be less attractive than presidential elections, in which executive positions are contested, and attract less turnout to the polls.
Political analysts agree that one of the main reasons for low participation is to be found in the “social bad mood” towards politics in general. And they attribute it to being fed up with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and economic deterioration, after a prolonged stop in activity and the rise in inflation. Candidates for Congress are thus too “far” in the face of daily needs and anguish. They also attribute it to the lack of interest in voting among the young population.
Historical participation in the Primaries
The PASO began to be implemented in the 2011 elections, both in the category of President and Vice President, as well as in those of senators and national deputies. That year, the level of participation in the primaries was 78.7%: the highest since they have been in force. Two years later, in the legislative PASSES of 2013, the turnout fell and stood at 75% percent.
In the 2015 internal presidential elections that were in favor of Mauricio Macri, the index fell just one tenth to 74.9%. In the 2017 mid-term primaries, participation rose to 75.93% of the electoral roll.
For the PASO of 2019, which marked the end of the Cambiemos administration and advanced Alberto Fernández’s victory, the turnout of the electorate at the polls rose to 76.42 percent.
The difference between PASO and general
According to official figures, historically the PASO had a difference of around 5 participation points below the general ones.
In the last generals of 2019 that had the Frente de Todos as a great winner, participation was 80.41%, which represented 4 percentage points above the turnout in the PASO (76.42%).
In the legislative elections of two years before, in which Cambiemos was imposed in a mid-term revalidation, the difference was less than 2 points (77.61% in the general elections versus 75.93% in the Primaries). But in those of 2015, that difference had been more than 6 percentage points (74.91% in the PASO vs 81.07% in the general ones).
In the 2013 elections the difference was almost 3 points (77.64% in the general elections vs 75.01% in the Primary) and in the debut elections in 2011, it was less than one point.