Cristina Fernández de Kirchner beaten in Argentine mid-term senate race by President Macri ally
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s hopes of returning to power in Argentina were dealt a blow last night as she was beaten into second place in her bid to claim a seat in the senate representing Buenos Aires.
The former president was defeated by President Macri’s former education minister. Mr Macri, the centre-right reformer, enjoyed a successful night, with his Cambiemos or “Let’s Change” coalition winning five of the most populous areas in the capital in the mid-term elections, as well as the Cordoba, Santa Fe and Mendoza provinces.
The victories — the first time a single party had won all five in a mid-term vote since 1985 — consolidated his position and saw off early signs of a resurgence by Mrs Kirchner and the populist left-wing Peronist opposition behind her.
Despite coming second in Buenos Aires, Mrs Kirchner will still take up a seat in the senate under Argentina’s list electoral system, but any hopes of launching a serious bid for the presidency in 2019 will have faded.
However, her return to the senate will offer her relief from a pending corruption investigation. Immunity laws mean Mrs Kirchner, who took over from her husband Néstor Kirchner from 2007 to 2015, can no longer be arrested over money laundering charges but can face trial. Many of her closest allies face trial or are already in prison. Mrs Kirchner, 64, has admitted that there may have been corruption in her government but denies personal wrongdoing.
Her return to electoral politics was monitored closely by big business and finance, which have backed Mr Macri and his labour and tax reforms. “People are more confident in the future, the economy, in making investments. They are tired of corruption and populism,” said Cecilia de Francesca, a writer, 50, who was celebrating at the Cambiemos campaign headquarters.
Mr Macri told supporters that his pro-market policies during his first two years in office had been vindicated. Speaking in Buenos Aires, he said: “It’s an unforgettable day. Today we confirmed our commitment to change.”
Mrs Kirchner told her supporters: “We must be proud of this result. Unidad Ciudadana has emerged as the strongest opposition to this government.”