- Title: 'We can all work together' -Poll leader Fernandez looks to unite Argentina
- Date: 25th October 2019
- Summary: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (JULY 31, 2019) (REUTERS) ALBERTO FERNANDEZ ARRIVING FOR RALLY FERNANDEZ AT RALLY, RECEIVING APPLAUSE FERNANDEZ ON STAGE AT RALLY (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, SAYING: "Between the banks and the retirees, I choose the retirees. Between the banks and the teachers, I choose the teachers. Between the banks and public health, I choose public health. Between the banks and the public health system, I choose the public health system. Between the banks and public universities, I choose public universities. And between the banks and the investigators, I choose the investigators."
- Embargoed: 8th November 2019 20:03
- Keywords: Argentina elections presidential president Alberto Fernandez Cristina Fernandez Kirchner Macri
- Location: SANTA ROSA & BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
- City: SANTA ROSA & BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA006B2LKBIF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Alberto Fernandez has already pulled off something of a coup. The fixer and confidante of presidents, little known outside Argentine political circles just five months ago, is set to take on the top job in Latin American's number three economy.
The moderate Peronist, a fan of Bob Dylan after whom he named his brown-and-white collie, will now likely need to pull off an even tougher manoeuvre, with the country gripped by default fears, inflation and flat-lined growth.
Argentine voters cast their ballots on Sunday (October 27) with Fernandez holding a seemingly unassailable 20-point lead in the latest polls, a meteoric rise for the university professor who was outed as a candidate in May by his higher-profile running mate, ex-leader Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
His negotiating skills will be key. Beyond the election, the country is set for complex discussions with its creditors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after a crash in the peso currency left Argentina on the edge of default as reserve sunk and borrowing costs jumped.
That crash was sparked ironically by Fernandez's own, unexpected landslide victory in a primary election vote against Macri, as investors worried about his populist running mate and question marks over Fernandez's own policy views.
That flexibility has helped him unite the nebulous Peronist political flank, his gentler, man-of-the-people image helping lure middle-ground voters worried about the return of divisive ex-president FernÃ¡ndez de Kirchner.
He has continued to oversee exams until this month at the University of Buenos Aires where he teaches.
In a reflection of his chameleon-like mutability, FernÃ¡ndez has been both a lawmaker for Buenos Aires in a party of neo-liberals, a Peronist chief of staff and part of the Radical Civic Union party in the 1980s.
That's reflected in an eclectic taste in music. Behind the austere mustache and formal suit he wears as a law school professor, Fernandez hides a rock-loving musician who turns to the guitar every time Argentine politics lets up.
Asked about his ideological influences, FernÃ¡ndez said in a radio interview they included more obvious political thinkers such as Juan Peron, the ideological father of Peronism, but also a string of South American and North American musicians.
Dylan, the American songwriter behind "Blowin' In the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" even inspired the name of his collie, which itself has a huge fan base on social media and is often seen alongside Fernandez.
A big question for many - investors, farmers and voters - has been how burnished are Fernandez's Peronist credentials: ranging from fears he could be a puppet for more extreme "Kirchnerist" views to worries he's not Peronist enough.
FernÃ¡ndez, raised in a family of lawyers, has worked within Peronism for years. He was Chief of Staff under husband-and-wife pair NÃ©stor Kirchner from 2003-2007, and the first year of Cristina FernÃ¡ndez, who ruled from 2007 until 2015.
Fernandez is also a fanatic for Argentinos Juniors soccer club, whose stadium stands a few blocks from the house where he grew up in the Villa del Parque neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
The relationship with his running mate is also complex. He was sharply critical of Cristina FernÃ¡ndez during her administration, which saw the introduction of populist policies including currency controls, as well as limits and taxes slapped onto farm imports.
The pair reconciled last year and have used their differences to great effect to move within touching distance of the Casa Rosada presidential palace. Whether it lasts is another question.
For now, Fernandez is basking in the glow of leading what was a fragmented Peronist opposition to the brink of power.
(Production: Juan Bustamante, Miguel Lo Bianco)
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