Argentine Politics: Massa’s Election Dampens Prospect of Fernandez’s Re-election

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s dreams of being re-elected for a third term seem to have been dashed after the province of Buenos Aires  rejected her party’s candidate in the midterm …

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s dreams of being re-elected for a third term seem to have been dashed after the province of Buenos Aires  rejected her party’s candidate in the midterm congressional primary.

Sunday’s vote served more as a referendum on Fernández’s popularity two years after she won a second term in office. The primaries are designed to select candidates for the October legislative elections.

Buenos Aires, where 40 percent of the country’s electorate lives, is a must-win province, analysts say. Here, Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa defeated Fernandez’s hand-picked candidate Martin Insaurralde.

Nationwide, her coalition clinched only 25 percent of the vote, according to Reuters. Fernandez has often stated that she would not run for president again, but analysts believe her supporters want the constitution amended to let her become president for a third term.

The Argentine president faces the mounting challenge of dealing with double-digit inflation and an over-valued currency. Foreign media has often criticized her protectionist trade policies and tightening of foreign exchange controls.

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“For Fernandez to run again she would have to increase her control of Congress in October, when half the seats in the lower chamber will be up for grabs, along with a third of the Senate,” says Reuters’ report.

Analysts say the president’s image is deteriorating amid corruption scandals involving her appointees and close allies. Despite a lack of fiscal measures, Argentina’s economy is set to grow by about 5 percent this year.

“The country has steady money inflows from soy, corn and wheat exports. However, public spending has outpaced revenue as the October 27 vote approaches. Going into the primary, central bank reserves are at $37 billion (24 billion pounds) versus $45 billion a year ago,” Reuters added.

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