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Argentina's Kirchners lose political ground in mid-term elections | World news | The Guardian

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Argentina's Kirchners lose political ground in mid-term elections

Control of congress slips away from President Cristina Kirchner as husband Nestor defeated in critical race
Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Photograph: Jorge Saenz/AP

Rory Carroll


Tuesday 30 June 2009 12.29 EDT

This article is 7 years old

Argentina's president Cristina Kirchner has suffered a devastating defeat in mid-term elections which ended her control of congress and exposed voter disenchantment with her governing style and policies.

The president lost her grip on the legislature and the Peronist party in a rancorous campaign which turned into a referendum on her two years at the helm of Latin America's third-biggest economy. Voters compounded the humiliation by rejecting her husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, in a high-profile congressional race for Buenos Aires province.

The former president had passed the baton to his wife in 2007 in the apparent hope of creating a political dynasty.

Nestor conceded defeat today to Francisco De Narvaez of the Union Pro alliance, an anti-Kirchner faction of the Peronist party. "In the coming days everyone will be evaluating the choices and mistakes that have taken place," he said.

Allies also lost important races in the city of Buenos Aires and Cordoba and Santa Fe provinces.

Yesterday's vote was a dramatic reversal from when Nestor was a popular president who steered Argentina out of its 2001-02 economic meltdown with unorthodox policies. The Kirchners, lawyers who rose from a political base in the country's deep south, were compared to the Clintons.

But inflation, crime and a bruising battle with farmers over export taxes eroded the first couple's support, galvanising opponents and widening fractures within the Peronist party. The couple's reluctance to compromise with critics - last year they accused farmers of plotting a coup - prompted accusations of authoritarianism and stubbornness.

Analysts said the president, now greatly weakened in her ability to steer congress, was likely to reshuffle her cabinet to try to wrest back the initiative ahead of the 2011 presidential election.

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