Sunday's midterm election in Argentina has become crucial for the government of President Cristina Fernandez who must retain control of Congress in the last two years of her mandate ahead of the 2015 presidential election, otherwise she runs the risk of becoming a lame duck accompanied by a most unwished end for the legacy of the Kirchner couple decade-plus rule.
The Kirchners first arrived in Casa Rosada in 2003, when Nestor was elected president for the 2003/2007 mandate and was followed by his wife Cristina Fernandez 2007/2011, who was re-elected for the 2011/2015 period with a historic 54% vote. Next Sunday 27 October is also a significant date for the calendar of the current administration: three years ago Nestor Kirchner died of heart failure.
When the government won in 2011, approval was 64%, which it rapidly lost because of the economy, the confrontational style of government and the fact it has consistently denied inflation and insecurity, according to Mariel Fornoni from F &T consultants.
Precisely the opposition has repeatedly banged on those two issues: inflation and insecurity, and even more on the closing rallies Thursday night before the 48 hours curfew ahead of Sunday's ballot.
President Cristina Fernandez complying with the strict rest, no-news, no-stress medical recommendation following her cranium blood clot drainage surgery, has been the great absentee of this electoral campaign.
When her re-election back in 2011, Cristina Fernandez received 11.8 million valid ballots, almost four times ahead of her runner up. However in the latest primaries vote in August to chose candidates for Sunday's midterm election, the ruling party was down to seven million votes.
But despite all the bad news, Cristina Fernandez Victory Front remained last August as the most voted political force in Argentina since it has representation in the 24 major districts, and even having lost in significant provinces such as Santa Fe, Cordoba, Buenos Aires City and in the strategic province of Buenos Aires which represents 40% of the country's electorate of 30.5 million.
And here is where the main battle ground is taking place since in Argentine politics whoever dominates the province has the best chances to reach Casa Rosada. On the one side is Sergio Massa a former cabinet chief of Cristina Fernandez who is running mainly with the dissidents of her government and threatens to defeat the supremacy of the ruling Victory Front in that strategic territory.
Massa, 41 is the mayor of Tigre, a tourist resort on the Parana river with over a million population, 30 kilometers north of the capital Buenos Aires, and if he wins on Sunday he could be in excellent position to become one of the presidential candidates for 2015, according to opinion polls. In the August primaries Massa was the most voted candidate in that jurisdiction, 35% running with the Renewal Front of his creation.
In his closing rally speech Massa insisted with the insecurity issue and pledged life imprisonment for drug dealers and mentioned that he had met with several grandfathers who were 'grateful' because they had been robbed four times but luckily survived unscathed.
Martin Insaurralde, 42, and the incumbent candidate had to close the rally without the president and making a strong speech in support of the ten years of Kirchnerism and social gains, but also with a veiled warning about Massa, the future is not going back: it would be a lost decade if we change everything.
Insaurralde, who is mayor of Lomas de Zamora another populated neighborhood to the south of Buenos Aires, but also in the province, is five to eight points behind Massa according to the different opinion polls.
The opposition insists on pounding with the coming end of the Kirchnerist cycle while the government defends the won decade which it promises to continue with the development decade.
These elections are very important because it is the end of a chapter and the start of another for 2015, points out Fornori in reference to the presidential election in two years time, particularly since there is such concentration of power in the Argentine executive.
However political consultant and sociologist Artemio Lopez argues there is a death sentence against Kirchnerism, but real data don't necessarily support that statement or wish.
The ruling Victory Front was the political force that collected most votes at national level in all elections held since 2003 said Lopez and anticipated a similar scenario for Sunday.
Fornari and Lopez coincide that the government of President Cristina Fernandez will most probably retain its majority in Congress because it is renewing seats in the Lower House from the 2009 ballot, which was the Victory Front's worst performance. That year the government collected the results of the long dispute with farmers over export taxes and was almost fractured.
In this scenario Cristina Fernandez could also have a strong influence on deciding who effectively will be the candidate with best chances to succeed her, and grant her and her family some peace from the cascade of corruption charges that are expected once she steps down and the 'gained decade plus' is over.
On Sunday Argentines will be voting to renew half of the Lower House 257 seats and a third of the Senate's 72.
According to the Electoral National Director Alejandro Tullio, a provisional vote recount will be available “by midnight” next Sunday, when Argentines go to the polls in the legislative elections. At that time, “we’ll have some solid information,” enough to work out an outcome, he said.
“At 9 pm, the Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo will brief on the development of the election and will begin to inform about the vote recount. By midnight will have some solid information“ Tullio explained.