Menem jolted by third place in capital's poll

PHIL DAVISON

Latin America Correspondent

President Carlos Menem of Argentina has suffered his worst political setback since he was re-elected in May. The centre-left opposition Frepaso alliance won the influential Senate seat for the capital, Buenos Aires, at the weekend.

The overwhelming victory by Frepaso's candidate, Graciela Fernandez Meijide, with more than 50 per cent of the vote to only 21 per cent for Mr Menem's Peronist candidate, was seen as reflecting disquiet over rampant unemployment and reports of official corruption. The Peronist candidate, Antonio Erman Gonzalez, a former economics and defence minister under Mr Menem, was left a humiliating third behind Jorge Vanossi of the Radicals, who won 22.5 per cent.

"This will teach those who said there was no way to get at Menem," said Ms Meijide, a leading human rights campaigner. "The people are fed up."

The vote of discontent in the capital followed a series of provincial riots this summer, notably in Cordoba and San Juan provinces, some by the unemployed but mostly by public sector workers who had not been paid in months.

When he was re-elected in May, Mr Menem pledged to "pulverise unemployment the way we pulverised inflation". But the jobless figure has spiralled to a record 18.6 per cent.

On the recent feast day of St Cayetano, patron saint of work, more than a million people filed through the St Cayetano church outside Buenos Aires to beseech the saint for jobs. Some had camped out for a week to get a place in line.

The jobless rate threatens Mr Menem's economic successes of the past five years, bringing the economy to its most sensitive point since it floundered in the wake of last December's Mexican financial crisis.

Uncertainty over the future of the Economy Minister, Domingo Cavallo, architect of much of the recent successes, has also caused jitters among domestic and foreign investors who fear economic instability were he to go. Mr Cavallo caused a political storm in August when he said mafiosi were entrenched in the upper reaches of government and state bodies. Rumours that hardline Peronists would force his dismissal sent the stock market downward and threatened foreign investment until Mr Menem issued a hearty endorsement of his minister.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor