Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner trounced opposition contenders on Sunday in the country’s first-ever nationwide primary election for presidential candidates. With more than 96 percent of votes counted, Fernández de Kirchner won slightly more than 50 percent of votes cast—38 percent more that the second-place candidate Ricardo Alfonsín of the centrist Radical Civic Union party. The third place finisher, Eduardo Duhalde, won 12 percent.
Under the primary rule system, candidates receiving less than 1.5 percent of votes will not be eligible to run in October’s first-round election. For analysts, this weekend’s results mean that the president is in a good position to win re-election in the fall elections.
For a candidate to win in the general elections, he/she must receive at least 45 percent of the total vote, or 40 percent of the vote with a 10-point lead over the second place finisher.
Following yesterday’s victory, Fernández de Kirchner vowed to maintain the status quo, “This is a recognition of all the work, the effort, everything that has been accomplished in the past eight years, but also for what we still need to do…My only promise is to keep working for everything we still need.”
The next mayor of Buenos Aires will be decided on July 31 after no candidate secured an outright majority during Sunday’s vote in the Argentine capital. Mayor Mauricio Macri—the frontrunner and leader of the Propuesta Republicana (PRO) party—won 47.1 percent of the vote while Daniel Filmus of the Peronist Frente para la Victoria (FPV) party received 27.8 percent of ballots cast, according to results posted with 79 percent of the ballots counted. Fernando ‘Pino’ Solanas from Proyecto Sur received nearly 13 percent of the votes.
Macri reacted with euphoria: “This was greater than what we imagined. I am happy.” Filmus called on other parties to join him in July. “I’ve heard a lot of coincidences. A lot of forces talking about a fairer Buenos Aires. Those forces need to join me in a common project,” he said.
The July 31 runoff election will serve as a thermometer of the political environment preceding the presidential election on October 23, when President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (FPV) will run for re-election. Macri himself previously pulled out of the presidential election to focus on the city; he campaigned on a project of inclusion.
President Fernández de Kirchner called Filmus yesterday evening and told him to “fight the battle.” However, only her ministers attended Filmus’ press conference yesterday.
Three days after announcing her re-election bid, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) revealed the selection of Amado Boudou, the current economy minister, as her running mate in the October 23 election. Boudou, 47, is one of the cabinet’s most charismatic members and observers believe that his age will help court young voters.
Boudou is also popular among the electorate for his accomplishments in public office. Prior to his current post, he was in charge of Argentina’s pension funds. During this period—the nadir of the global recession—Boudou was instrumental in advocating for the nationalization of privatized pension funds. He remains adamant that Argentina’s inflation rate, hovering near 25 percent, is not an issue—instead pointing to the economy’s growth rate of 9.1 percent during the first four months of 2011.
The selection of Boudou was welcomed by kirchneristas as he belongs to CFK’s Peronist Frente para la Victoria (Front for Victory—FPV)—unlike incumbent Vice President Julio Cobos, who belongs to the opposition Unión Cívica Radical (Radical Civic Union—UCR). CFK and Cobos have frequently clashed and barely speak to each other.
In a poll taken last week, CFK led the field of candidates with 47 percent support. If a candidate receives at least 45 percent of the vote in October, s/he wins the presidency and a runoff is avoided.
Putting an end to doubts about her intentions to stay in power, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced yesterday that she will run for re-election on October 23. Although only a month ago Fernández de Kirchner said she was not “dying to be president again,” in a nationally televised address on Tuesday evening, she said she has a “personal, historical and political responsibility” to fulfill. Backed by ministers, governors and other public figures in the room, Fernández de Kirchner promised to keep working for the nation’s reconstruction, saying “my commitment is irrevocable.”
Speaking from Argentina’s presidential palace, the Casa Rosada, the 58-year old center-left president did not name a running mate. Fernández de Kirchner, representing the Peronist Frente para la Victoria (FPV) party, will run against Ricardo Alfonsín (Unión Cívica Radical party)—son of ex-president Raúl Alfonsín—and former President Eduardo Duhalde (dissident Peronist). According to the most recent poll of the Center of Public Opinion Studies, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, if elections were held today, Fernández de Kirchner would lead with 47 percent of the votes, followed by Alfonsín (15 percent) and Duhalde (7 percent).
If Fernández de Kirchner wins, she would keep her party in power for 12 years—a hold that began in 2003 when her late husband, Néstor Kirchner, took office following the country’s 2001-2002 economic crisis. The 2007 victory was attributed to her husband’s popularity, and she has capitalized on the public’s sympathy following his death last October; at the same time, supporters also acknowledge her pro-poor policies and a growing economy.
In addition to popular support, Law 26.571, Ley de Democratización de la Representación Política, la Transparencia y la Equidad Electoral (Law of Democratization of Political Representation, Transparency and Electoral Equity)—signed December 2009—will facilitate the FPV’s aspirations, as it undermines the formation of party alliances and limits new candidates from running for the presidency.
Opponents accuse her administration of unsustainable populist measures, corruption scandals, manipulation of official statistics, and doubtful management of public resources, though consultants doubt these factors pose a significant threat to the President’s candidacy.