In January 2010 the Mitofsky consulting firm concluded that Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had the lowest approval ratings among leaders from across the Americas. Few would have predicted at the time that less than two years later she would be reelected to the presidency by a landslide.
Kirchner easily won in the first round of Sunday’s presidential elections with approximately 54% of voters selecting her, nearly 40% more than second-place candidate Hermes Binner. Her margin of victory is the greatest since Argentina returned to civilian rule in 1983 and she will also becomes the first female Latin American president to serve to consecutive terms.
Thousands of Kirchner supporters gathered last night in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo during her victory speech. "Count on me to continue pursuing the project…All I want is to keep collaborating ... to keep Argentina growing. I want to keep changing history", said Kirchner according to BBC News. She also made an emotional reference to her late husband, ex-president Nestor Kirchner, who she called the “man who transformed Argentina.”
Kirchner’s victory extended beyond her reelection; the Kirchnerismo political faction regained the majority in the legislature that it lost two years ago. Most of the winning gubernatorial candidates represented the Kirchner-led Frente para la Victoria (Front for Victory). Nevertheless, the opposition did produce one major surprise when the Socialist candidate Binner received more votes for the presidency than more established names like former interim president Eduardo Duhalde.
Kirchner’s decisive win could be attributed to various factors including the deep fragmentation within the right-wing Peronists, the creation of popular social programs and widespread sympathy for her after her husband passed away unexpectedly one year ago this month. Strong economic growth also worked to her advantage though an article in The Guardian noted that it might soon become a liability for the reelected presidenta:
(Kirchner and Vice President-elect Amado Boudou) have championed an Argentinian solution to countries facing a debt crisis: nationalize private pensions and use central bank reserves to increase government spending rather than impose austerity measures, and force bondholders to suffer before ordinary citizens.Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English
The candidates debated how prepared Argentina was for a global slowdown. Declining commodity and trade revenue will make it harder to raise incomes to keep up with inflation. Argentina's central bank is under pressure to spend reserves to maintain the peso's value against the dollar, while also guarding against currency shocks that could threaten Argentina's all-important trade with Brazil.
Online Sources- Clarin, Diario Los Andes, BBC News, The Guardian, noticias24.com, elecciones201.gov.ar