Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Don’t look for a Kirchner comeback in Argentina

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on December 10, 2009

by Ian Bremmer, for Foreign Policy, December 10, 2009.

The story of Nestor Kirchner has taken yet another unexpected turn. Though he remained widely popular, then-president Kirchner decided in 2007 not to seek re-election as Argentina’s chief executive, mainly because he feared that term limits would make him a lame duck and cost him control of his party. To extend his influence, he threw support behind his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who won the election to succeed him.

Since then, things haven’t gone well for either of them. Mrs. Kirchner has seen her popularity steadily ebb to less than 30 percent. To revive her (and his own) political fortunes, Mr. Kirchner decided to run for the lower house of congress this summer to represent Buenos Aires province, by far the country’s largest. The former president came in second, and his wife’s government lost its majority in both houses of congress. Political obituaries followed, and the Kirchner preference for nationalization, generous social spending, wealth redistribution, and manipulation of economic data now appears on the way out.

But Nestor Kirchner doesn’t accept defeat easily. In the months since his embarrassment at the polls, he has worked to fight his way back toward relevance. Though finishing second, he still qualified for a seat under Argentina’s system of proportional representation, and Kirchner formally assumed his post last week. With Argentina’s economy likely to recover, financial relief on the horizon, and a fragmented opposition, the Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner administration will probably muddle through to the next presidential election in 2011…(continue reading)

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