President Cristina Fernandez was re-elected in a landslide Sunday, winning with the widest victory margin in Argentina since the recovery of democracy in 1983. At midnight and with 58% of polling stations reporting CFK had 53% of the vote with runner up Socialist Hermes Binner collecting 17.7%.
Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo predicted the president’s share would rise as polls reported from her party’s stronghold of densely populated Buenos Aires province. Vote count shows 78% of 28 million registered voters turned out. Argentina has a population of 40 million.
“Count on me to continue pursuing the project,” Cristina Fernandez vowed in her victory speech. “All I want is to keep collaborating ... to keep Argentina growing. I want to keep changing history.”
Cristina Fernandez is Argentina’s first woman to be re-elected as president, but the victory was personally bittersweet, the first without her husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack last Oct. 27.
“This is a strange night for me,” she said, describing her mix of emotions. “This man who transformed Argentina led us all and gave everything he had and more ... Without him, without his valor and courage, it would have been impossible to get to this point.”
Thousands of jubilant, flag-waving people crowded into the capital’s historic Plaza de Mayo to watch on a huge TV screen as she spoke from a downtown hotel, where her supporters interrupted so frequently with their chants that she lectured them as a mother would her children: “The worst that people can be is small. In history, you always must be bigger still — more generous, more thoughtful, more thankful.”
Then, she showed her teeth, vowing to protect Argentina from outside threats or special interests. “This woman isn’t moved by any interest. The only thing that moves her is profound love for the country. Of that I’m responsible” said CFK.
Later, she appeared in the plaza as well, giving a rousing, second victory speech, her amplified voice echoing through the capital as she called on Argentina’s youth to dedicate themselves to social projects nationwide.
Cristina Fernandez was on track to win a larger share of votes than any president since Argentina’s democracy was restored in 1983, when Raul Alfonsin was elected with 52%. Her margin over Governor Binner and five other candidates was wider even than the 1973 victory margin of her strongman hero, Juan Domingo Peron.
Her political coalition is also on course to regain enough seats in Congress to form new alliances and regain the control it lost in 2009. At play were 130 seats in the lower house and 24 in the Senate.
CFK suffered high negative ratings early in her presidency (2007/2011), but soared in popularity as a widow by softening her usually combative tone and proving her ability to command loyalty or respect from particularly unruly political elite.
Most voters polled beforehand said they wanted government stability to keep their financial situations improving in what has been one of Argentina’s longest spells of economic growth in history.
However Argentina faces tough challenges in 2012: Its commodities exports are vulnerable to a global recession, and economic growth is forecast to slow sharply in the coming year. Declining revenues will make it harder to raise incomes to keep up with inflation. Argentina’s central bank is under pressure to spend reserves to maintain the peso’s value against the dollar, while also guarding against currency shocks that could threaten Argentina’s all-important trade with Brazil.
Binner, 68, a doctor and leader of a socialist party, said, “We know how to read the numbers, and we congratulate the lady president, but we also tell her that this force is Argentina’s second-leading political force.”
When Cristina Fernandez is inaugurated Dec. 10, her Front for Victory coalition will become the first political bloc to begin a third consecutive presidential term since 1928, when President Hipolito Yrigoyen of the Radical Civic Union took office, only to be toppled by a military coup two years later, said Leandro Morganfield, a historian at the University of Buenos Aires.