Argentina Presidential Elections

Compiled by Heather Farrell
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; 11:08 AM

On Oct. 28, voters in Argentina elected the country's next president to a four-year term. Results with around 95 percent of polling places reporting showed Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had received around 45 percent of the vote, nearly twice that of the second place finisher and enough of a margin to avoid a November runoff. Fernández de Kirchner is the second woman elected president in South America in the past two years, after Chile's Michelle Bachelet.

The Candidates

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of the Front for Victory (FV) party polled 20 to 30 percentage points ahead of other candidates in preelection polls and was widely expected to win in the first round of voting. Fern├índez de Kirchner faced thirteen other candidates in the presidential race; her two closest rivals were former congresswoman Elisa Carrió of the Affirmation for an Egalitarian Republic (ARI) and former economy minister Roberto Lavagna of An Advanced Nation (UNA).

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Frontrunner Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, 54, is the wife of President Néstor Kirchner and a senator representing the province of Buenos Aires. The center-left candidate is a top adviser to her husband and likely would continue his economic policies. But unlike the incumbent president, Fernández de Kirchner has reached out to business leaders and courted more allies and investors abroad. She would be the first woman to be freely elected president of Argentina.

Elisa Carrio
Elisa Carrio
Elisa Carrió, 51, served in Congress from 1995 to 2007 and finished fourth in the 2003 presidential race. Carrió has criticized President Kirchner's fiscal policies, saying they have fed inflation and could stall economic growth.

Roberto Lavagna
Roberto Lavagna
Roberto Lavagna, 65, a former economy minister, has also expressed concern over the country's economic future, adopting the campaign slogan "Stop Inflation, Vote Lavagna." Carrió and Lavagna have said they would cool relations with Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez and focus instead on improving trade relations with neighboring countries.

The Issues

Since Argentina's economic collapse in 2001, President Kirchner's popularity has risen as the economy has grown steadily and unemployment has plummeted. But energy shortages, inflation and charges of corruption have eroded that popularity in recent weeks. Still, public support remains strong for both Kirchner and his wife.

Inflation has sparked months of debate between the Kirchner administration and its critics, and it remained the main campaign issue in the presidential race. The government estimates an inflation rate of 8 to 10 percent, about half what most independent economists expect.

U.S. Interests

Fernández de Kirchner has voiced her support for President Hugo Chávez, who maintains close ties with President Kirchner, suggesting she will continue to try to balance economic relations with Venezuela without alienating the United States and Europe. Fernández de Kirchner's campaign has been compared to that of Hillary Clinton, also a first lady and senator running for president. The two women have met at least twice, and Kirchner has expressed admiration for Clinton. Kirchner has the potential to serve as a link between the United States and Latin America's leftist leaders, and analysts have said a win for Kirchner and Clinton could strengthen ties between the two countries.

Sources: Staff and wire reports

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