First lady claims Argentina victory
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner set to become president as rival concedes.
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2007 12:22 GMT

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, right will take over
the presidency from her husband [AFP]

The first lady of Argentina has claimed victory in the country's presidential election after exit polls and early results showed her winning nearly half the votes.


If confirmed, the win will make Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
"We've won by a wide margin," she told her supporters on Sunday.

With 94 per cent of votes counted, Fernandez had nearly 45 per cent of the vote, an apparently unbeatable lead and almost double that of her nearest challenger.

The result, when confirmed, would make Fernandez the outright victor of the election without the need for a run-off in November. She would take office on December 10.

The closest rivals for the presidency, Elisa Carrio, a former MP, and Roberto Lavagna, a former economy minister, trailed well behind Fernandez.


In depth

Carrio conceded defeat to Fernandez early on Monday.

"We congratulate [Fernandez] and recognise her victory," Carrio said, in a speech broadcast on television shortly after she had said she refused to recognise Fernandez's victory based on partial results.

Voting, which is compulsory in Argentina, was extended by an hour after reports of missing ballots and missing poll workers delayed the start of voting.

There have also been allegations of widespread fraud and other irregularities.



The exit poll results sparked celebrations at Fernandez's campaign headquarters, but none of the other candidates has so far conceded defeat.


Al Jazeera's Omar Khalifa in Buenos Aires, said: "Areas around the Intercontinental hotel, Cristina's campaign headquarters, turned into a very well orchestrated party with bussed-in drummers banging drums and groups of up to 30 or 40 people walking through nearby streets waving their flags.
Fernandez supporters began celebrating on the
streets as poll results were released [Reuters]
"Elsewhere on the streets of Buenos Aires, the mood is generally indifferent, roads are flowing with the same amount of cars and the restaurants and cafes are generally quiet.
"This election has produced no suprises and analysts here say that the 'K' government will produce none either."


A spokesman for Lavagna said he would file a judicial complaint about a "systematic lack of ballots" marked with his name.


Another candidate, Vilma Ripoll, denounced "ballot stealing".


For an outright victory, a candidate needs 45 per cent of the ballots, or at least 40 per cent with a 10-point lead. Otherwise a run-off vote will be held on November 25.

"We have won amply," Fernandez said on Sunday.

"But this, far from putting us in a position of privilege, puts us instead in a position of greater responsibilities and obligations."


Fernandez, 54, is a senator with two decades of experience in politics.


If her victory is confirmed, she will take over from her husband in December.


Argentina had its only other woman president in the mid-1970s when Isabel Peron took power after the death of her husband, Juan Peron, but she was not elected to the job.


Popular president


Kirchner, who is stepping down from the presidency amid high popularity ratings after just one term, has not given any reason for his decision not to run again.


Many Argentines credit Kirchner with pulling the country out of a dramatic economic crisis in 2001 and using growth of 8 per cent a year to create jobs, raise salaries and expand pension benefits


Fernandez herself refused to make any last-minute comments to the media.


Throughout her campaign she gave hardly any interviews and she has remained vague on her policies.


In her final speech on Thursday, she constantly referred to her husband's term and vowed to pursue his left-leaning policies.


She said: "Now we need to work on the remaining dreams."


Fernandez has brushed aside figures suggesting Argentina's economy is overheating with an estimated 20 per cent inflation and low foreign investment.


Instead she has pledged to maintain hefty public spending and price controls, in the hope that the high worldwide demand for commodities that has benefited Argentina will continue.


The first lady has rebuffed critics who have accused her of being excessive in her designer clothes and use of heavy makeup, which have led some to compare her to Argentina's iconic Eva Peron.


"Should I disguise myself as a poor person to be a good political leader?" she asked in a rare exchange with the media.

Al Jazeera and agencies
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