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Kirchner's party majorities at risk in legislative elections

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-06-29

After six years sharing power, President Cristina Kirchner and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, risk losing both their party's parliamentary majorities in a Sunday vote amid rising discontent with Argentina's stagnant economy.

Argentineans voted on Sunday in parliamentary elections widely seen as a plebiscite on the rule of President Cristina Kirchner and her husband Nestor.

The Kirchner couple have had more than six years in office, but are expected to lose their majorities in the upper and lower houses of the National Congress.

Nestor Kirchner governed Argentina from 2003 to 2007, with high world prices for Argentine exports helping his popularity and that of Cristina, who took over in 2007.
   
But as world commodity prices collapsed, so did the popularity of the Kirchners.
   
The main battle in the South American country's mid-term elections is set to play out in the Buenos Aires province, where some 40% of voters reside.

Losing majority a likely scenario

Nestor Kirchner — the head of the Peronist party Front for Victory and renowned for overturning amnesty laws for military officers accused of torture and assassinations during the country's 1976-1983 "dirty war" — is standing as a parliamentary candidate there, supported by the governor and dozens of mayors.

He needs to win Buenos Aires province to be able to claim victory when faced with a probable loss of a majority in at least the lower house.
   
"The most likely is that the ruling party loses its majority in both houses," political analyst Rosendo Fraga told AFP.
   
Kirchner convinced his wife to advance the congressional elections, originally scheduled for October, by four months as the economy worsened, reducing the time for their opponents to organise and perhaps avoiding a more severe fallout later in the year.

"Kirchner always knew he was losing Buenos Aires province," analyst Jorge Giacobbe told AFP. "That's why he decided to change the rules."

Sunday's elections are for half of the 247 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and a third of 72 Senate seats, which represent some 28 million people of the total population of 40 million.

Date created : 2009-06-28

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