Monday, October 29, 2007

Argentina: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner claims election victory

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is claiming victory in Argentina's presidential election.

Ms. Fernandez appeared in Buenos Aires Sunday evening after early official returns and exit polls indicated she will succeed her husband in office and become Argentina's first democratically elected woman president.

With ballots counted from about 11 percent of the nation's polling places, Ms. Fernandez had 42.5 percent of the vote. Her nearest challengers were far behind: former economy minister Roberto Lavagna with 21 percent and former lawmaker Eliso Carrio with 18 percent.

Surveys of Argentines who had already cast their ballots projected Ms. Fernandez would win up to 46 percent of the vote - more than enough to avoid a second-round, runoff election.

The 54-year-old, three-term senator entered the campaign this year after her husband, President Nestor Kirchner, announced he is stepping aside after one term in office.

Ms. Fernandez says she will continue Mr. Kirchner's policies, which revived Argentina's economy after its collapse in 2001.

Electoral law in Argentina calls for a runoff vote if neither of two sets of conditions are met: a victorious presidential candidate must either have 45 percent of the vote, or a 40-percent showing combined with a 10-percentage-point lead over the nearest challenger.

Argentines also voted Sunday for provincial governors, members of both houses of the legislature and local lawmakers.