After six years sharing power, President Cristina Kirchner and her husband, former president Nestor Kirchner, risk losing both their party's parliamentary majorities in Sunday's vote, preliminary results show.
Reuters - Argentine President Cristina Fernandez appeared to lose control of Congress in a mid-term election on Sunday, according to exit polls, and early official results showed her husband trailing in a key congressional race.
Exit polls commissioned by television stations and political parties showed Fernandez allies would lose enough seats in the lower house and the Senate to wipe out her majorities in both houses.
Nestor Kirchner, who was president before his wife took power, ran for Congress in populous Buenos Aires province to bolster her government in an election seen as a referendum on the couple's economic policies and combative governing style.
With 27.19 percent of voting stations reporting in Buenos Aires province, millionaire businessman Francisco de Narvaez received 35.01 percent of the votes, compared with 31.88 percent for Kirchner.
But the trend could reverse as votes pour in from the province's slums and working-class neighborhoods, where support for the Kirchners is high.
Buenos Aires province is home to more than a third of the population, making it the country's biggest electoral prize. Kirchner, a Peronist, ran a tight race with de Narvaez, a dissident from the same political party.
Fernandez, a center-leftist who in 2007 succeeded Kirchner, has stagnated with a 30 percent approval rating as Latin America's No. 3 economy hits turbulence after a six-year expansion.
The mid-terms are viewed as a springboard for the 2011 presidential race, but Kirchner's chances of returning to power will fade if he doesn't have a strong win in Sunday's congressional contest.
"The close vote shows how worn out Kirchner's leadership is," political analyst Sergio Berensztein said on Todo Noticias, a TV channel.
Argentines' biggest concerns are crime and inflation, according to opinion polls, and Fernandez's failure to tame high prices is one reason her popularity has flagged.
Also, the Kirchners' confrontational style -- including frequent clashes with business leaders -- over their six years in power has worn thin with many Argentines.
"I don't like their arrogance and I like the idea of changing things a bit, so I voted for De Narvaez," said Monica Vidal, 34, who runs a cab stand and voted in the Avellaneda suburb.
On the campaign trail, Kirchner warned the country would return to the chaos of the 2001-2002 economic and political meltdown if people did not back him and his wife.
Kirchner's popularity rose during his 2003-2007 term in office as he presided over an economic rebound and surge in jobs. His wife was easily elected in late 2007 on promises to continue the economic good times.
Martin Diaz, 36, a postman, said he supported Kirchner. "This government got us out of a crisis and I think there's a lot more left for them to do. The other side is an orthodox right-wing that ... doesn't care if people lose their jobs," he said.
Date created : 2009-06-29