Wednesday 13 November 2019

Argentina's president urges voters to defend her achievements in run-off

President Cristina Fernandez waves at the crowds from the government house in Buenos Aires (AP)
President Cristina Fernandez waves at the crowds from the government house in Buenos Aires (AP)

Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez praised her government's achievements in her first public comments since her party's lacklustre election performance.

She urged voters Argentines to defend them in the presidential run-off election next month.

Ms Fernandez used a late night speech to remind Argentines of steps taken by her left-of-centre administration.

The included the nationalisation of Aerolineas Argentinas and the YPF oil company, social welfare programmes for the poor and free education in public universities.

She warned her supporters those accomplishments are "not irreversible" and said voters need to stand up for them in the November 22 run-off between her party's standard-bearer and an opposition candidate.

"Some people believe a runoff is choosing between Juan or Jose," said Ms Fernandez, whose voice became hoarse toward the end of a public engagement that totalled four hours.

"We are not just electing a president, but a president who also represents a political model for the country."

Yet she died not mention by name the man she chose to run as the governing party's candidate for president, Daniel Scioli, governor of the Buenos Aires province.

He gained 37% of the votes in Sunday's six-candidate presidential election, compared to 34% for the second-place finisher, Mauricio Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires city.

The tight finish forced a second round, in which Mr Scioli's chances for victory are uncertain.

Mr Macri has promised to maintain a safety net for the poor while also making major reforms, like lifting currency restrictions, attracting foreign investment and solving a long-standing dispute with creditors in the US who have taken Argentina to court.

Mr Scioli was notably absent as Ms Fernandez opened a centre to study infectious diseases and addressed a political rally. His running mate, Carlos Zannini, a close Fernandez loyalist, was present.

Rumours about a rupture between Ms Fernandez and Mr Scioli became so strong this week that Mr Scioli felt compelled to deny them on Wednesday, saying that he spoke with the president "often" and "when necessary".

Noting the day the next administration takes office, Ms Fernandez told the rally: "I'm not a candidate for anything. On December 10, I'll be going home."

But she did make clear she will not be going away.

"Know this," she told thousands of onlookers, who waved flags and kept encouraging her to continue.

"I won't be president December 10, but I will always be there for the people when I'm needed."

PA Media

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