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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 14:49 GMT
Kirchner victory sparks memory of Peron
New Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner consistently led the opinion polls

The legacy of Argentina's ex-President Juan Peron and his wives - Isabel and Eva - is not far from the surface in the Latin American press reaction to Cristina Kirchner's presidential election victory.

While commentators welcome the fact she is "the first woman elected by the popular vote" in Argentina, some also note the challenges ahead, especially in the economy.


The first public declarations must be regarded as a pleasant surprise by the Argentine public... She called on all Argentines, regardless of their political hue, to begin a period "without hatred or bitterness" in order to "rebuild the social and institutional fabric"... The broad nature of the call by the Argentines' future president is a positive step at a time when cracks are starting to appear in Argentine society. The next government will face more than a few challenges in consolidating the economic growth of recent years.


If Cristina Kirchner has already improved on Argentina's only other woman president, Isabel Peron, by being elected in her own right, she has yet to prove her superiority over Isabel by bringing her term to a successful close.


The first-round victory introduces an element of innovation and generational renewal. A majority of public opinion has broadly endorsed the direction of the outgoing government. President Nestor Kirchner is, in that sense, a principal tributary of the support received by his wife and will be able to realise another historic first: it will be the first time a democratically elected president has ended his mandate with high levels of support and stepped down without hoping for re-election.


For some of the leading English language newspapers, the election of Cristina Kirchner is the start of a powerful political dynasty. The truth is Nestor and Cristina Kirchner have only done what the founder of Peronism attempted on two occasions... Attempts to establish dynastic regimes in Argentina have never been successful.


Just as it is noteworthy that she is the first woman elected by the popular vote to be president of Argentina, so there are aspects of her language that arouse concern among her compatriots and also in the Latin American region. For example, the threat of a populist status quo is clear. She is not only the president's wife but also a figure who has constantly supported the controversial initiatives of Nestor Kirchner and his controversial link with [Venezuela's leader] Hugo Chavez.


The challenge for Cristina is great - principally in the economic field, where she will not have the honeymoon which any democratically-elected government deserves. In her first message to the country following the victory, Cristina did not show even a glimmer of its authoritarian nature. That gives hope to many of her fiercest critics and opponents about the need for the government to leave behind the climate of tension and set Argentina on a course of building a new social contract.


Her clear-cut election victory was the realisation of an old dream of Peronism dating back to the time of the mythical Evita: for it to succeed itself, via the family and through democratic acclaim... The authoritarian and arrogant profile Cristina Fernandez has so far displayed and the tendency to perpetuate the corrupt practices shown by her husband make her an heiress potentially inclined to maintain her predecessor's style and dealings. A complex future is therefore appearing on Argentina's horizon, especially because it postpones for another four years the challenge of finding out whether the country will ever be able to emerge from the Peronist cycle.

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