Interconnect: Argentina’s New President: A Progress Report

Interconnect Newsletter
September 2009, Vol. 16, No. 3
By COHA Research Associate Elizabeth Benjamin

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her political party, the Partido Justicialista (PJ), suffered a devastating loss of its majority in both houses of parliament in June’s mid-term legislative elections. The most notable embarrassment was the defeat of her husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, who subsequently resigned as leader of the Peronist party. What proved damaging to President Kirchner’s popularity was her bitterly opposed export tax policies. These have been a continuous point of contention within the government, prompting numerous protests by Argentine farmers and agribusinesses.

However, in August both houses of Congress approved a measure extending various executive powers for another year, the most important of which granted the president the authority to set agricultural export taxes. Three re-elected senators, who are not in the governing coalition party, voted in favor of the bill. If they continue to be found on President Kirchner’s side, her party would retain control in the upper house.

On August 28th , farmers and agribusinesses instigated a week-long strike in response to the new legislation. The protesters demanded that her government grant exemptions on export taxes in agricultural areas that have been affected by this year’s drought.

Due to the overall economic situation in Argentina, a recent Poliarquía pollster recorded the President’s personal rejection index at 53% compared to her 56% approval rating in 2007. Several influential public figures have called for her resignation. However, although President Kirchner lacks an appreciable amount of popular support and despite the fact that her party will soon be out-numbered in Congress, it is not likely that she will resign or be forced out.