Argentina’s Fernandez Popularity Dives Since Election

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s popularity has more than halved in a year since she was re-elected by a landslide, according to a Management & Fit poll.

Fernandez’s popularity fell in October to 28 percent, the poll published today showed, from 63.3 percent when she won a second term by 54 percent of the votes in October 2011. The index showed a 3 percentage point recovery from a 24.3 percent in September.

“The president has lost a lot of political capital in only a few months,” said Mariel Fornoni, director of the polling company, in a telephone interview. “The lack of government response to inflation, crime, corruption has generated a lot of bad feeling.”

Fernandez, 59, is struggling to stem inflation, which private economists’ estimates at more than 20 percent, while South America’s second-biggest economy is showing signs of stagnating. In the second-quarter, the economy failed to expand for the first time in three years.

Fernandez’s decline in popularity comes at a time when some of the government’s supporters are seeking to amend the constitution to allow the president to run for a third time. Lawmaker Diana Conti said on Oct. 31 in an interview with Radio Continental that the “dumb alternacy” of presidents set by the constitution is “ridiculous.”

On Nov. 8, Argentines upset with inflation, crime and attempts to change the Constitution, plan to mount a second protest this year. On Sept. 13, protesters staged the biggest demonstration against the government since 2008, when Fernandez’s plan to raise agriculture export taxes led to four months of protests throughout the country.

As a constitutional amendment will require the approval of two-thirds of Congress, Fernandez is counting on the 2013 mid-term elections to add lawmakers to her coalition.

The president has sidestepped questions about her political future.

“The constitution doesn’t allow my re-election as president, so this is beyond what I want. It’s not my responsibility to reform the constitution,” Fernandez said in a Sept. 28 exchange with students at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. “It doesn’t depend on me.”

On Oct. 31, 28 opposition senators signed a statement pledging to vote against any attempt to modify the country’s constitution.

Management & Fit’s poll of 2,100 people was conducted from Oct. 18 to Oct. 30 and has a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points.

(Corrects to include president’s first name in first paragraph.)
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