Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (photo, from lexpress.fr) has been re-elected in Argentina’s presidential election winning more than 50 per cent of the vote with 75 per cent of results returned.
Her main rival, socialist candidate Hermes Binner, won 17 per cent.
In 2007 centre-leftist Kirchner succeeded to her husband as president. She won re-election on the back of strong economic growth in the country.
In front of jubilant supporters in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo, Ms Fernandez, 58, made an emotional reference to her late husband who died a year ago : “This is a strange night for me […] This man who transformed Argentina led us all and gave everything he had and more. Without him, without his valour and courage, it would have been impossible to get to this point.
“Count on me to continue pursuing the project.
“All I want is to keep collaborating … to keep Argentina growing. I want to keep changing history,” she said.
Ms Fernandez added : “I’m the first woman to be re-elected president. I don’t want anything more.”
She also thanked several Latin American leaders for their support, including Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.
Ms Fernandez could also recover control of Congress, which she lost in mid-term elections in 2009.
Some 30 million voters were also voting in order to fill 130 seats in the lower house of Congress and 24 in the Senate. Voters were also choosing who will get to nine governor’s offices and hundreds of local seats.
Export quotas and social programmes
According to her critics, Ms Fernandez has been helped by a weak field of opposition candidates.
Her critics say she has benefited from a weak and fragmented opposition in this election and political analysts say she gets her current popularity mostly from the health of the economy, which is growing at about eight per cent per year.
After becoming president in 2007, her public support dropped to around 20% following rows with farmers and media groups over exports quotas on soya, wheat and corn shipments.
Although these decisions angered pro-market farmers and business leaders, generous welfare spending won her a loyal base of voters.
Ms Fernandez carried out social programmes to expand pensions coverage and child welfare benefits.
Her critics also accuse the re-elected president of downplaying Argentina’s rate of inflation, which currently is the second highest in Latin America, behind Venezuela.