Cristina Kirchner has had a bad couple of years: a cancer scare and a fall which left her with a blood clot in her brain were followed yesterday with the news that in mid-term elections her party had lost the crucial Buenos Aires region. A blow in itself, this means that Argentina’s President, who is the widow of the late President Nestor Kirchner, will be unable to muster the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution and give herself a third term. This couple’s domination of Argentina now has a finishing date – the 2015 elections.
Economic problems have played a major part in the growing disillusionment with this reincarnation of Peronist populism. But it would be wrong to consider Kirchner’s Front for Victory party doomed. In European terms, her populism may appear strident and her attempt to build an international coalition against Britain’s hold on the Falklands has gone nowhere. But Argentina under this latter-day Evita is not doing too badly. Her party has retained its majority in both houses of parliament.
The big winner was her party rival Sergio Massa, who hopes to save Peronism from disaster by moderating it. If he can foster democratic rule capable of bringing both social reform and economic stability, he will be doing a favour not only to Argentina but to Latin America as a whole.