- Special Pages
BUENOS AIRES: Argentine President Cristina Kirchner is enduring one of the toughest stretches of her term as her approval rating drops amid anger over inflation, crime and the prospect of her seeking re-election.
Tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets of Buenos Aires and other cities last week banging pots and pans — a common conduit for venting frustration in Latin America — to complain about the president.
The widow of former president Nestor Kirchner, who succeeded her husband in 2007, is scheduled to finish her second term in 2015 — and supporters in Congress are pressing for a constitutional amendment to let her seek
But the outlook is not rosy for Argentina’s first elected female president.
Although the economy has been growing at an average rate of eight percent since 2003, the expansion is expected to slow this year because of the sluggish world economy. High inflation is sapping consumption despite across-the-board wage hikes.
Political analyst Graciela Romer said Thursday’s pot-banging marches had galvanised a very heterogeneous society — and demonstrators turned out in greater numbers than at a similar rally in September.
Many are fed up with Kirchner’s heavy-handed governing style and the prospect of her seeking re-election. Many are also concerned over inflation and crime.
“We are not looking at an indifferent nation. The level of participation is very high,” said another analyst, Jorge Giacobbe, of the massive demonstration.
People from all levels of society took part, he noted — a change from the rally two months ago, which was largely attended by middle and upper class people.
And most of the banners seen at Thursday’s rally had slogans against a third term for Kirchner.
Indeed, the shine seems to be wearing off the Kirchner brand, after nearly a decade in which one or the other of the power couple ruled. Nestor Kirchner served from 2003 to 3007, and died of a heart attack in 2010. Cristina Kirchner’s popularity rating is tumbling — from 60 percent at the start of her second term to just 30 or 40 percent now. In the October 2011 election, she won 54 percent of the votes. AFP