- Title: ARGENTINA: Argentina's first lady closes election campaign with giant lead
- Date: 26th October 2007
- Summary: VARIOUS OF CARRIO AND RUNNING PARTNER RUBEN GIUSTINIANI GREETING SUPPORTERS AS CONFETTI FALLS
- Embargoed: 10th November 2007 12:00
- Location: Argentina
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA5K1BTTSF1ZP669HIM8OZOGH9W
- Story Text: Argentina's presidential candidates have closed their election campaigns, and the country's first lady looks set to win in Sunday's vote.
Argentina's first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner closed her election campaign on Thursday (October 25) with a giant rally on the outskirts of Buenos Aires with all polls placing her as the runaway favorite.
Argentines go to the polls to elect a new president on Sunday (October 28), but Fernandez's assumption to her husband's post already seems like a sure bet.
In a country that still remembers fondly the mid-20th century populist icon Eva 'Evita' Peron, the first lady has led the race from the word the go.
As her husband did five years ago, she closed out her campaign in the Peronist stronghold La Matanza, a 1.2-million person district in the working class suburbs south of Buenos Aires.
Some ten thousand people turned out to cheer her on despite a heavy spring rainfall. A forceful speaker and glamorous dresser, her emphasis on social justice resonates with many of the country's poor.
Most Argentines who suffered from a 2001-2002 meltdown also credit President Nestor Kirchner for steady economic improvement and hope a vote for 'Cristina' will mean more of the same.
"When one can see that a part of these dreams have begun to be realized, they become certain that it is necessary to continue after those dreams that have still not come true. We still have Argentines that do not have work, and so this 28th we will go after our dreams. We still need better education and better health in the republic of Argentina, and we will go after those dreams," Fernandez said in her closing speech During Kirchner's presidency Fernandez worked as an important advisor, and has also led her own career in the Senate and Congress.
With a hefty 30-point lead over the second-placed candidate her campaign has felt more like a victory lap.
But with polls reporting 10 percent of voters undecided just three days out of the elections, opposition leaders said the election could still go to a second round.
Elisa Carrio is the other woman of the election race and the second-placed runner with around 15 percent support in the polls.
An anti-corruption crusader popular among the middle class, she chose a riverside rendezvous point in the wealthy northern district of Buenos Aires for her final appeal.
The latest surveys show Carrio and Fernandez will run neck-and-neck in the capital Buenos Aires, where many voters are lukewarm on the Kirchners.
Carrio is a lawyer and devout Catholic and has branded Kirchner's government as corrupt and authoritarian.
"For 10 years all of the power in Argentina has fought to hem us in, to force us to surrender so that we would disappear. They tried to conscript us. And we are the second-running political force in the country and Sunday we could be the first and on the 10th of December we could govern," she said to a roaring crowd of about four thousand.
The 50-year-old served as a congresswoman representing Chaco, the poor northern state where she was born. She began another term representing the capital, but stepped down to run for the presidency.
A lover of philosophy and relentless smoker, she has a hard-core base devoted to her focus on honest government and social programs.
She is vying for second place with Kirchner's ex-economy minister Roberto Lavagna, who closed his campaign with low-key visits to schools and community centers in poor neighborhoods.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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