Citing economic crisis, Argentine president wants early polls


Buenos Aires : Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has proposed to hold Congressional elections four months earlier than scheduled to allow the government focus more on fighting the economic crisis. But analysts and opponents have called it a political gimick.

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“We cannot be in elections (mode) until October, in a permanent debate when the world is falling to pieces and the pieces are falling on us: it would be suicide,” Fernandez said at a public event Friday.

The president said she would send to Congress next Monday a bill proposing to move up the legislative elections from the scheduled Oct 28 to June 28.

Under Argentine law, candidates must register 90 days before the voting. If Fernandez’s proposal is passed, parties would have to finalise their electoral lists by March 28.

Leaders of the two main opposition parties, the Radical Civic Union (UCR), and the Civic Coalition, however, were quick to denounce the president’s call for early elections.

UCR chief Gerardo Morales accused the Fernandez administration of “weakening the institutions” and of sending a “terrible signal” at a moment of crisis.

Fernandez has shown a “lack of will to establish a political dialogue,” said Margarita Stolbitzer, a former UCR stalwart who joined the Civic Coalition, which comprises conservatives, socialists and dissident Peronists.

Meanwhile, political analysts said the president’s move represented a big gamble for the embattled head of state.

With defections and intra-party battles having cost the ruling Peronists a working majority in Congress, Fernandez thinks she will gain than lose from an early elections before her fractious opponents forge an alliance against her, the analysts said.

The latest polls, taken last month, show that Argentines disapprove of Fernandez’s

performance by 41 percent to 29 percent.