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President Fernandez heading for landslide win

Argentina's incumbent President Cristina Fernandez was headed for a landslide re-election victory on Sunday, with exit polls showing her receiving 55 percent of the vote against 14 percent for the Socialist candidate Hermes Binner.

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REUTERS - Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was headed for easy re-election on Sunday, winning 55 percent of the vote with a huge lead over her nearest rival, according to two sources with access to an exit poll.

If the result is confirmed after polling stations close at 6 p.m. local time (2100 GMT), the center-leftist would win a second four-year term with a strong mandate to deepen policies hated by big business but loved by many average Argentines.

The exit poll, funded by the government, put Socialist provincial governor Hermes Binner a distant second with 14 percent, the sources with access to the survey of 30,000 voters told Reuters.

Fernandez, the widow of former President Nestor Kirchner, has been helped by an economy growing at about 8 percent per year and a field of feeble opposition candidates. Pre-election polls suggested she would win with enough support to avoid a run-off vote.

Fernandez’s interventionist policies have riled pro-market farmers and business leaders while locking in the support of voters helped by her generous spending on programs for poor families and the elderly.

The former senator may also regain the control of Congress she lost in the 2009 mid-term election, with help from allies.

The sharp-tongued leader has nationalized private pension funds, raised soy export taxes and kept quotas on wheat and corn shipments. Growers say such measures hurt investment in farming, Argentina’s top source of hard currency.

The president was swarmed by followers as she voted in her home province of Santa Cruz. She defended her policies as having led to solid growth at a time of global turmoil.

"When you look at what’s happening in the world, you can feel very proud to be Argentine," Fernandez, dressed in black and her hair tinted red, told reporters just after casting her ballot at a voting station at a school.
 

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