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Monday, October 25, 1999 Published at 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK

World: Americas

Same policies, new style

De La Rua is unlikely to keep Argentina's gossip columnists busy

By James Reynolds in Buenos Aires

Argentina's new president, Fernando de la Rua, promises similar policies but a very different style from his flamboyant predecessor Carlos Menem.

To many here, he represents change, but change without risk.

The Buenos Aires mayor said he will maintain many of the positions of the current administration, including Carlos Menem's economic policies, which ended hyper-inflation earlier this decade.

And Mr de la Rua will continue Argentina's alliance with its neighbours in the South American common market, Mercosur.

But Fernando de la Rua has promised to put greater focus on social issues, on tackling crime, unemployment and corruption, all of which have risen during the Menem years.

The most notable change Mr de la Rua offers is perhaps one of style.

He is a rather dry, austere figure - he campaigned under the slogan: "People say I'm boring" - whose interests include reading and gardening.

This marks a change from the flamboyance of Carlos Menem, who once listed motor racing, boxing and seduction as his hobbies.

As Fernando de la Rua begins to prepare his own administration, the defeated Peronist Party looks set for a period of in-fighting; President Menem has made it clear that he intends to seek his party's nomination for president for the 2003 election.

But for the moment, Argentina is tired of Carlos Menem.

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