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
  • Get to the point
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: Web Developer

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...

Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Contract Manager - London

£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Engineer is required to...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Hull - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum + £4200 car allowance: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Suppo...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence