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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Elections: 28 million vote as CFK seeks to preserve power

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner looks set to win easy re-election as recent polls showed the Head of State Fernandez taking a landslide victory with enough votes to avoid a runoff.

Thus, Fernández de Kirchner shows a massive lead over her nearest rival, Socialist provincial governor Hermes Binner.

If today's result confirms the poll's findings, it would mark the biggest election win since democracy returned to the country in 1983 when Raul Alfonsín won 51.8 percent of the vote.

In 2007 Fernández de Kirchner won with 45.3 percent of the vote, when she succeeded her late husband, former President Néstor Kirchner.

The 58-year-old leader won just over 50 percent of votes in an August primary, which was seen as a dress rehearsal for today’s election because all parties had already anointed their candidates and voters could choose among them.

Trailing her in a distant second place is Binner, followed by UDESO (Radical Party) candidate, Ricardo Alfonsin, who’s running neck-and-neck in third place with San Luis provincial governor Alberto Rodríguez Saá.

Fernandez, who has given the state a leading role in the economy, has staged a dramatic comeback from low approval ratings and angry protests by farmers and middle-class voters that erupted early in 2008 during her first term.

Kirchner's sudden death a year ago prompted an outpouring of public sympathy that gave her approval ratings a sudden boost that she has managed to build upon.

A victory would give Fernández de Kirchner a mandate to continue with policies that have riled pro-market farmers and business leaders. She may also regain the control of Congress that she lost in the 2009 mid-term election.

The sharp-tongued former senator has nationalized private pension funds, raised taxes on soy exports and kept quotas on wheat and corn shipments. Growers say such interventionist measures dampen much-needed investment in agriculture, which is the country's top source of hard currency. 

Argentina has one of the world's fastest-growing economies and despite high inflation and other signs of strain, the fragmented field of opposition candidates have failed to mount a convincing challenge.

Fernandez struggled with approval ratings that can only be changed with a two-thirds majority in Congress.

Other South American leaders -- from Colombia to Ecuador to Venezuela - have in recent years changed laws to give them more time in power. Some experts say just keeping the option open would allow Fernandez to avoid becoming a "lame duck" in her second term.

Under Argentine election law, candidates are guaranteed a first-round victory if they win more than 45 percent of the vote or just 40 percent with a lead of 10 percentage points over her closest rival.
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