Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military


President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had a decades-long pedigree in politics, having served in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. She won 45% of the vote in the October 2007 presidential election and defeated her closest competitor, Elisa Carrio of the Civic Coalition, by 22.25 points. The second-place finisher, center-left candidate Elisa Carrio conceded the race on the morning of October 29, but said she will continue as the leader of the Argentine political opposition. She received 22.96% of the vote (i.e., 4,188,660 ballots). Ex-Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna received 16.89% or 3,081,922 votes to finish in third place, a showing that was widely viewed as a disappointment. San Luis Governor Alberto Rodriguez Saa finished with 7.72% or 1,407,652 votes, approximately what local polls had predicted he would receive. The ten other presidential candidates each received less than 2% of the total votes.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner became the first Argentine woman elected to the presidency. "Cristina," as Argentines often refer to her, was sworn into office on December 10, 2007. Her FPV (including allied Radicals, socialists, and others) gained 20 seats, giving it control of 131 seats, just over the quorum level of 129. In addition to the 131 FPV deputies, however, another 29 deputies in the Chamber are considered Kirchner allies, giving CFK a comfortable majority of the 258 votes in the Chamber. Carrio's Civic Coalition gained 19 seats for a total of 27. Lavagna-backed candidates lost 7 seats, bringing the UCR's totals down to 30 representatives (meaning that, for all the Radicals' troubles, they remain the second biggest bloc in the Chamber). Rodriguez Saa and the dissident Peronists lost 15 seats for a total of 36 total seats for the incoming Chamber of Deputies. Buenos Aires Mayor-elect Mauricio Macri's PRO party lost 11 seats for a new total of 13. The remaining 25 seats were divided among provincial and local parties.

There was an expectation that Néstor Kirchner would disappear for a while, and he very clearly had not done that. It raised the question: 'Who's really in charge here?' Things hadn't changed at all, and some of the problems left over from her husband's term gathered heat. No one suggested that Fernández de Kirchner, popularly known just as Cristina, wasn't actively leading the country. Even though discussions about frivolities such as her designer dresses, expensive handbags and even her eye makeup can seem like a national pastime, few believed she lacked political know-how. She was, after all, a prominent senator before her husband became president.

She is no Isabel Perón -- who took over as an unprepared president after her husband, Juan Perón, died in 1974 -- but she has encouraged comparisons to Perón's previous wife, Evita, who is still revered by Argentines for her combination of strong character and glamour.

The ruling couple's considerable political capital dissipated as a consequence of their confrontation with the farm sector. The Government's announcement 11 March 2008 of an increase in export taxes on a soybeans from 35% to 44% was a catalyst for the rural sector strike, the "straw that broke the camel's back," but the root cause of rural unrest were broader. An "imbalance" in taxes paid and government benefits received in terms of schools, hospitals, roads, etc., is a common theme of rural sector complaints. Urban dwellers in Buenos Aires banged pots and pans in support of the farmers, and pro-government thugs descended on and attacked some of them to "take back the streets," on several evenings in March 2008. This spontaneous support in the cities for the farmers by Buenos Aires and other urban centers' middle classes appears to reflect general discontent with the Kirchner government over a number of issues rather than any particular affinity for the rural sectors complaints. In the end, the Kirchner government survived the farm crisis and made it into 2009, but by July 2009 she had approval ratings around 28%, the elected Latin American president with the lowest popularity rating in her country.

Argentina held mid-term congressional elections in June 2009, in which the ruling PJ Victory Front (FpV) lost its majority in both houses of Congress. Argentina's ruling party and allies suffered a major setback in the June 28 congressional mid-term elections, winning only about 30% of the vote nationwide and likely losing its majority in both chambers of Congress. In the key race of Buenos Aires province, the ticket headed by multimillionaire Peronist dissident Francisco de Narvaez came in first place with 34.58% of the vote, besting former president Nestor Kirchner's slate with 32.11% of the vote. In the federal capital, De Narvaez's allies -- Mayor Mauricio Macri's PRO party -- won 31.09% of the vote with a ticket headed by Macri's former deputy mayor, Gabriela Michetti. The surprise in the capital was the strong second-place showing by leftist filmmaker Pino Solanas, who nosed out the Civic Coalition's Alfonso Prat-Gay (backed by Elisa Carrio). This race largely hinged on voters' feelings about the Kirchners and was therefore viewed as decisive for the Kirchners' political prospects, and it can largely be attributed to the sharp drop in approval ratings incurred by the Kirchners' protracted conflict in 2008 with farmers over agricultural export duties.

In December 2009, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK), taking advantage of her (soon-to-expire) majority in the lame-duck Congress, succeeded in getting her electoral reform bill passed without major modifications. Argentina's Senate approved 42 to 24 the bill requiring mandatory primaries, establishing new requirements for presidential candidates, limiting the use of private funds for campaigns, and restricting the publication of polls.

The new Congress convened in December 2009. The next presidential elections was held on October 23, 2011; a runoff, if needed, would be held on November 20. Fernandez de Kirchner was seeking re-election, competing against a varied field of opponents, including Ricardo Alfonsin (UCR), former president Eduardo Duhalde, Santa Fe Governor Hermes Binner (Socialist), Elisa Carrio (Civic Coalition), and San Luis Governor Alberto Rodriguez Saa.

Presidential elections took place on 23 October 2011. Cristina Kirchner (Front for Victory Party / Frente para la Victoria/Partido Justicialista) was re-elected with 54% of the vote and a lead of 35 points over the second-placed candidate Hermes Binner (Socialist Party). The polling was described by media and various NGOs as free and fair. Cristina Kirchner had previously succeeded her husband Nestor on 10 December 2007, having won the October 2007 election. In concurrent legislative elections, voters elected one-half of the members of the Chamber of Deputies representing all 24 provinces and one-third of those in the Senate representing eight provinces. The results give Cristina Kirchner a majority in both chambers. Local observers considered these elections generally free and fair.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's governing bloc took a drubbing in the 27 October 2014 midterm elections, shrinking her congressional majority and snuffing out chances of a constitutional change to allow her a third term. Opposition leader and the president's former cabinet chief Sergio Massa beat out the president's handpicked candidate in the country's largest voting district, Buenos Aires province. Massa, the mayor of the affluent town of Tigre, was widely expected to be a presidential candidate in the 2015 presidential election.

The 60-year-old president was not able to campaign for her congressional candidates after an operation earlier to remove blood from inside her skull and to relieve pressure on her brain. Her condition may have come from hitting her head during a fall in August 2013. President Fernandez, who has been in office since 2007, had her thyroid glands removed after she was diagnosed with cancer, although later tests indicated no cancer was present. Her husband, former president Nestor Kirchner, died after a heart attack in 2010.

The woman dubbed by some the new Eva Perón is a divisive figure. She still inspires millions of Argentines despite an economic slump, widespread corruption, and growing insecurity. For her supporters, Cristina Kirchner continued her husband’s work by rebuilding the country’s economy after the crippling debt crisis of 2001. She increased public spending and is adored by the poor who praise her socialist and welfare policies. But to her critics, her policies were merely populist.

Fernandez and the military establishment had a tense relationship since she rose to power in 2007. The main issues were personnel pay, cash for military modernization, and officers' reported unhappiness over reporting to civilians after years of military dictatorship. The uneasy relationship suffered more strains when the spying scandal broke in 2006. A naval intelligence unit was found to be maintaining a hefty file on Nestor Kirchner, president of Argentina at that time and husband of Fernandez.

Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor who accused Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner of covering-up Iran’s suspected role in the deadly Jewish center attack in 1994, was found dead in his apartment just hours before he was set to testify in front of the national Congress. Nisman died of a gunshot wound to the head, and a gun was found near the body. The prosecutor had spent 10 years investigating the Jewish centre bombing. The prosecutor collected a 300-page file, which he based on wiretaps.

According to Nisman’s files, the president and Foreign Minister tried not to incriminate the Iranian officials in order to promote good trade relations between the two countries. In its powerful conclusion, Nisman wrote that Fernandez “gave an express order to design and execute a plan disconnecting the accused Iranians from the case of the AMIA attack”. He added that not only did the president decide to pursue a “criminal plan of impunity” but was in control of it at all times.

Officials initially said Nisman apparently committed suicide but his former wife, Sandra Arroyo, said that she did not believe he killed himself, and some Argentines suspect the government might be behind his death. President Cristina Fernandez and her allies also said there appears to be more to it than a simple suicide although they have not said who they think was part of any conspiracy. An initial test for gunshot residue on Nisman’s hand was negative.

Fernandez charged that rogue agents from the Argentine intelligence services were behind the death of the state prosecutor. The government said Nisman's allegations and death were linked to a power struggle at Argentina's intelligence agency and agents who had recently been fired. It said they misled Nisman and might have had a hand in writing parts of his 350-page complaint. "When he was alive, they needed him to present the charges against the president. Then, undoubtedly, it was useful to have him dead," the president's chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez, said.

President Cristina Fernandez called on Congress to dissolve Argentina’s intelligence services after the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. She also strongly denied accusations that she had sought to shield former Iranian officials suspected in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center. The president did not say who might have killed Nisman, but in recent letters posted on social media she had suggested that rogue intelligence agents may have orchestrated the death.

Argentine prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita moved on 20 April 2015 to dismiss the accusations leveled against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. A judge threw out the allegations in February and federal prosecutor Javier De Luca, a Kirchner loyalist who was assigned to the case afterwards, said "there has been no crime."

One-third of the Senate stands for re-election every 2 years, and voters elect half the members of the lower house every 2 years. The president and vice president are directly elected to 4-year terms. Both are limited to two consecutive terms; they are allowed to stand for a third term or more after an interval of at least one term. The next presidential election was slated for October 2015. Cristina Kirchner cannot stand for a third consecutive term.





NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list