Don’t rule out Cristina

By Daniel Kerner Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been playing hard to get when it comes to running for reelection this fall. "I’m not dying to be president again, boys," she told a group of trade unionists recently. Similarly elusive statements, coupled with her recent health complications (which prompted her to delay a ...

By , the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media.
JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images
JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images
JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images

By Daniel Kerner

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been playing hard to get when it comes to running for reelection this fall. "I'm not dying to be president again, boys," she told a group of trade unionists recently. Similarly elusive statements, coupled with her recent health complications (which prompted her to delay a trip to Mexico in April), as well as grief over losing her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, have sparked rumors that she will step down when her term ends.

Most pundits justify those rumors by pointing to fear-namely, that Fernandez de Kirchner is worried about stumbling under the weight of further political and economic troubles. Argentina's already high inflation rate is on the rise, and the next government will likely have to contend with growing economic distortions. Moreover, as a second-term president, Fernandez de Kirchner would be a lame duck, and some believe she would struggle to contain the country's intensifying political pressures. Her ongoing tussle with the head of Argentina's labor movement, Hugo Moyano, is a good example of the challenges she might face.

By Daniel Kerner

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been playing hard to get when it comes to running for reelection this fall. "I’m not dying to be president again, boys," she told a group of trade unionists recently. Similarly elusive statements, coupled with her recent health complications (which prompted her to delay a trip to Mexico in April), as well as grief over losing her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, have sparked rumors that she will step down when her term ends.

Most pundits justify those rumors by pointing to fear-namely, that Fernandez de Kirchner is worried about stumbling under the weight of further political and economic troubles. Argentina’s already high inflation rate is on the rise, and the next government will likely have to contend with growing economic distortions. Moreover, as a second-term president, Fernandez de Kirchner would be a lame duck, and some believe she would struggle to contain the country’s intensifying political pressures. Her ongoing tussle with the head of Argentina’s labor movement, Hugo Moyano, is a good example of the challenges she might face.

But it would be unlike Fernandez de Kirchner to abandon a political battle. If she declined to run, the storyline would be that she couldn’t handle governing without her husband, and it’s hard to imagine her bowing out with that legacy. In fact, she’s more likely to tweak the constitution to avoid becoming a lame duck than to sit on the sidelines during the 23 October election.

More importantly, there is no compelling political reason for Fernandez de Kirchner not to run. She is more popular now than she has been at any other point in her presidency and, because no credible competitor has emerged, is poised to win easily in the first round. Moreover, most officials believe that the country is headed in the right direction and that any economic challenges that arise will be surmountable.

So why is Fernandez de Kirchner being so coy? Probably just for the sake of political theater. The president tends to improvise during her speeches, making them feel more authentic but also leading her to misspeak on occasion. She is probably also hoping to create the impression that running for reelection would be a major personal sacrifice, thereby lending her candidacy a heroic tinge. And stalling helps her confound the opposition. Expect the show to go on right up until the June 25 deadline for her announcement.

Daniel Kerner is an analyst in Eurasia Group’s Latin America practice.

Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. He is also the host of the television show GZERO World With Ian Bremmer. Twitter: @ianbremmer

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