Tough economic test for Menem after poll victory
Tuesday 16 May 1995
With almost 95 per cent of votes counted, the 64-year-old candidate of the Justicialist (Peronist) Party had 49.5 per cent of the presidential vote, two points better than his 1989 victory. His nearest rival, 49-year- old Jose Octavio Bordon, who broke away from the Peronists last year to lead the new Frepaso (Front for a Country of Solidarity) coalition, scored 29.6 per cent, dumping the Peronists' traditional rivals, the Radical Civic Union (UCR) into a distant third place with a historic low of 17 per cent.
The Peronists also swept most of the 14 provincial governorships at stake and increased their parliamentary majority by several seats. Their only significant loss was in the city of Buenos Aires, where Mr Bordon defeated Mr Menem, but that result had been expected.
As fireworks exploded shortly before midnight on Sunday and thousands of supporters sang, danced and shouted "Matador", Mr Menem's nickname, the victor appeared on the balcony of the Pink House, the presidential residence on the capital's Plaza de Mayo.
"With your permission, I would like to dedicate this triumph to my son, who I know is watching and celebrating with us now," Mr Menem said. Carlitos (Carlos Junior) Menem, a 26-year-old racing driver, was killed in a helicopter crash two months ago.
Mr Menem's only daughter, Zulemita, who has become a substitute First Lady since his estrangement from his wife, Zulema, left the balcony in tears.
Significantly, most of those in the square were from the surrounding Buenos Aires province and a huge placard carrying the name of the provincial governor, Eduardo Duhalde, dwarfed those for Mr Menem himself. Holding 8 million of the nation's 22 million voters, Buenos Aires province - a separate electoral entity from the capital city - was the key to Mr Menem's victory.
Since ballot slips twinned the presidential and gubernatorial votes, the popular Mr Duhalde was credited with bringing in much of Mr Menem's unexpectedly high tally. Political analysts believe Mr Menem may express his gratitude by naming Mr Duhalde as presidential candidate for 1999.
Before that, however, the President will have to deal with a looming recession, which many economists believe has been swept under the carpet during the election campaign. In his victory speech, Mr Menem promised to "pulverise" unemployment, currently at a historic high of 12 per cent.
In a front-page leading article, yesterday's issue of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald first congratulated Mr Menem on his victory, then added: "That was yesterday. The recession starts today."
Maintaining his policy of dollar-peso parity may prove to be difficult. Many economists here say parity has created a mirage of economic stability and predict a Mexico-style crisis unless the peso is devalued. Doing so, however, could prove politically disastrous for Mr Menem, who campaigned on a pledge to keep the peso equal to the dollar.
Taking advantage of parity, many Argentines took out dollar-denominated credits, mortgages or loans. "People will jump out windows if he devalues. But he may soon have to," said one foreign banker here.
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Rape threats, death threats and a police investigation after video poking fun at an Islamic Party in Malaysia goes viral
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
Jeremy Clarkson to become 'special adviser on transport' to David Cameron
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...