October 4, 2015 / 2:25 PM / in 2 years

Argentine ruling party extends presidential vote lead: poll

Daniel Scioli, Buenos Aires' province governor and presidential candidate for the Victory Front, speaks as vice-presidential candidate Carlos Zannini (bottom, L) watches during a campaign rally in Buenos Aires, September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Daniel Scioli, the ruling party’s candidate for Argentina’s presidential election, has extended his lead but cannot yet be sure of an outright win in this month’s first round, a poll showed on Sunday.

Scioli, from President Cristina Fernandez’s Front for Victory party, was drawing 38.6 percent support among those who have decided their vote, according to a Management & Fit poll.

That was up from 36.7 percent a month ago, and takes him closer to the 40 percent threshold he needs for an outright win on Oct. 25.

Scioli has made new investment a cornerstone of his campaign platform, but has given few clues on the changes he would make to state controls on the economy imposed by Fernandez, often defending her policies instead.

Backing for second-placed Mauricio Macri, a market-friendly businessman, is crumbling, down to 27.9 percent from 29.2 percent last month. His support is being eaten away both by Scioli’s rise and a surge in support for dissident Peronist Sergio Massa, up from around 12 percent in July to 21.5 percent in Sunday’s poll.

Macri is campaigning on a platform to reduce the state’s role in the economy and an end to the broad-based Peronist movement’s domination of Argentine politics, but has struggled to close the gap on Scioli.

Spending on social welfare programs has given the government a bedrock of support, especially among the poor, and many Argentinians say they want gradual or partial change and fear Macri would move too fast.

If no candidate wins 45 percent of valid votes or achieves 40 percent with a 10 point margin in the first round, the election will go to a run-off on Nov. 22.

The poll, which does not include undecided voters, was conducted between Sept 23 and Sept 29. It surveyed 2,400 people with an error margin of 2 percentage points.

Reporting by Walter Bianchi Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Alison Williams

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