By Cassandra Garrison
BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced a tax incentive proposal aimed at boosting employment among young people on Monday, in a bid to gain ground with a voter demographic that contributed to his poor showing in an August primary.
Macri, in the final stages of his re-election campaign, said in a series of tweets he would propose a year-long tax break of 100% for employers that hire workers aged between 17 and 24 who are seeking their first jobs, or who have less than a year of work experience.
Employers would receive a 75% tax cut in the second year as part of the incentive to hire young people.
“Young people in Argentina face many barriers to getting their first job. We will lower taxes to make it easier to access quality work,” Macri tweeted.
He offered no further details on how the tax break would apply to employers, but a press release sent by Macri’s coalition said a company that hires an eligible young worker who earns 35,000 pesos monthy would receive a tax break of 5,500 pesos per month.
The proposal by Macri, whose voters are typically over the age of 50, signals an attempt to target an important voting bloc just 20 days before an election he is widely expected to lose.
Macri’s resounding defeat in the Aug. 11 primary vote by Peronist opponent Alberto Fernandez came as a shock to pollsters who predicted a much narrower difference between the candidates.
Following the surprise result, some pollsters acknowledged that poor data on the voting intentions of young people were a major factor in the inaccurate predictions.
As one of the demographics most impacted by poverty and unemployment, young voters are less likely to have internet access or a conventional phone where canvassers can reach them. Most only use cellphones, making it harder for pollsters to contact them.
Young voters are more likely to be supporters of left-leaning Peronist candidates, political analysts said, as many grew up with generous social spending under the previous administration of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and her predecessor and late husband, President Nestor Kirchner.
Fernandez de Kirchner is now Alberto Fernandez’s vice presidential running-mate.
Macri’s uphill battle for a second term comes as Argentina is gripped by an economic crisis that has increased unemployment to 10.6% and sent inflation sky-rocketing to nearly 55%.
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Tom Brown)