The French newspaper Le Monde dedicated last week ample coverage to the son of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, Maximo Kirchner, 34, who has a growing influence in her mother’s administration given his double condition as ‘favourite son’ and leader of a youth group La Campora which he founded and is moving full steam ahead.
This has been particularly true since the death of a heart attack of former president Nestor Kirchner (2003/2007) on October 2010, which made him a necessary presence next to his mother, again confirmed during the long three weeks of medical convalescence of the Argentine president following her thyroidectomy in early January.
Reporter Christine Legrand speculates even further and says that the Kirchner couple have been sitting at the Casa Rosada since 2003, first Nestor and now Cristina at the beginning of her second consecutive mandate, so why not, Maximo could be the chosen to ensure the family’s power beyond 2015, when the next presidential election.
“He’s influential, he’s the eldest son of two presidents, very much involved in politics since a child, founder of a youth movement with great influence in the kirchnerite political machinery, and last but not least he carries the Kirchner name”, says political scientist Doris Capurro.
However, Maximo cultivates a low profile, doesn’t give interviews and never speaks in public. He is considered his mother’s right-hand man and the president has admitted that Maximo “has always been her favourite,” and her daughter, Florencia, 21, her late husband’s favourite.
Since the death in 2010 of Néstor Kirchner, late husband of Cristina and president from 2003 to 2007, Maximo has appeared increasingly at Mrs. Kirchner’s side, apparently filling the void left by his father, who governed in partnership with his wife. Though he has a larger build than his late father, Maximo has inherited Néstor Kirchner’s gaze and casual dress sense, which contrasts with his mother’s luxurious tastes.
Maximo first entered politics back in 2003, when he launched a youth movement to support the Kirchner government. The movement is called La Cámpora, after Hector Cámpora, a left-wing president elected in 1973. Cámpora was a supporter of Gen. Juan Domingo Perón, who had been exiled 18 years earlier. Campora resigned 49 days after being elected, clearing a path for Perón – upon returning from exile – to be elected with 62% of votes.
In the wake of Néstor Kirchner’s death, La Cámpora mobilized hundreds of demonstrators, assuring his widow of their unconditional support. For her second term, Cristina Kirchner has placed her trust in this new generation: her cabinet chief, Juan Manuel Abal Medina, 43, is the nephew of one of the founders of Montoneros, the Peronist guerrilla group in the 60s and 70s. He is the son of one of Perón’s closest representatives. The president’s deputy ministers of the economy and justice also hail from the La Cámpora movement.
La Cámpora currently holds eight seats in the Chamber of Deputies and more than 20 seats in regional legislative councils. Many of the La Cámpora militants work for government ministries or head public companies, such as Aerolineas Argentinas, the state run airline. The support Kirchner has received from the next generation has provoked tensions with organized labour, the Confederación General de Trabajo (CGT) trade union. Hugo Moyano, director of the CGT, called La Cámpora’s members a bunch of “rich kids”.
Anibal Fernandez, senator and ex-cabinet chief for the Kirchners, brushes off the idea that Maximo enjoys “growing influence” in public affairs, describing him instead as “a smart kid, an activist who has earned the right to give his opinion and who is in charge of a movement that includes lots of remarkable politicians.”
After abandoning his law studies, Maximo settled in Río Gallegos, the capital of the Santa Cruz region in the south of Argentina and his father’s home town. From there he administers the family fortune. He travels to Buenos Aires regularly to meet with President Cristina’s inner circle of advisors, and continues to oversee the running of La Cámpora from behind the scenes.
Rumours suggest he doesn’t have a good relationship with the vice-president, Amado Boudou. Maximo’s low profile nature clashes with the joviality of this ex-minister of the economy. Boudou, 50, is of French descent and was very conservative in his youth, but now likes to give the impression he’s a rocker: playing the guitar in meetings and riding a Harley Davidson.
Recently, Boudou had to assume a far more hands-on role, replacing the president while she recovered from a Jan. 4 thyroid operation. In late December, Cristina Kirchner was diagnosed to have cancer nodules which later proved “false positive”. She resumed her position earlier this week.
The Argentine Constitution prevents Cristina Kirchner, who was re-elected last October, from setting her sights on a third consecutive term. Argentina’s next presidential election is set for 2015. Some in the media, however, are already speculating about the possibility that Maximo could run in the 2013 by elections, using this as a springboard to the presidency.
But this week during a political rally of allegedly Kirchnerite political leaders, including Vice president Boudou, the possibility of President Cristina Fernandez re-re-election in 2015 through a constitutional amendment, was strongly supported and acclaimed. However according to Friday’s statements from Boudou downplaying that option, is can be concluded that the president did not give her blessing to the emphasis of the rally.
Nevertheless the Lady must be thinking about her legacy, her family and the Kirchner name following 2016, but in politics everybody is a player and has ambitions.