PUNDITS began writing Cristina Fernández’s political obituary just eight months after she became Argentina’s president in 2007. She squandered the popularity she had inherited from her husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, by picking and losing an ill-advised fight with farmers over export taxes. Then the world financial crisis abruptly halted the country’s economic boom, even as inflation eroded workers’ purchasing power. After years of unquestioned authority, the Kirchners suffered an embarrassing defeat in a midterm election last June. Not only did their Peronist party lose its congressional majority, but its list of candidates in Buenos Aires province—home to almost two-fifths of the electorate—led by Mr Kirchner himself, finished second. He promptly submitted his “irrevocable” resignation as party leader.

Cristina Fernández在2007年就任阿根廷总统后,仅仅八个月,专家就开始唱衰为她撰写政治讣闻。她白白浪费了前任总统和夫婿Néstor Kirchner留给她的高支持率,无端挑起一场与农场主人关于征收出口税的口水战,最后还让自己伤痕累累。接下来,全球金融海啸突然地中断了阿根廷的经济荣景,甚至通货膨胀吞噬了劳工购买力。在经过多年无庸置疑的掌权之后,Kirchner夫妇在去年六月期中选举惨败。他们领导的裴隆党失去不仅国会多数,由Néstor Kirchner亲自领衔的布艾省—占全国五分之二选民—国会议员名单更仅当选两位,他马上提出「无法挽回的」党魁辞呈。

The first couple have done little to merit a comeback since then. Nonetheless, thanks to a recovering world economy, the advantages of incumbency and a hapless opposition, they are showing surprising resilience. Ms Fernández’s approval rating has increased from 20% to 29% over the past seven months. Francisco de Narváez, who beat Mr Kirchner in Buenos Aires province in last year’s election, reckons they have a 50-50 chance of winning the 2011 presidential election. Mr Kirchner, who has taken back control of the Peronists, says he and his followers are “determined to continue governing until 2020.” Unlike Hugo Chávez, their Venezuelan ally, the Kirchners would not have to overturn term limits to do so, since they could continue to take turns in power.

第一家庭夫妇从那以后也从未试图挽回颓势。虽然如此,由于全球经济开始复苏、现任者的优势和运气不佳的反对党,他们的声望竟又出现惊人的反弹。Cristina Fernández的民调支持度,过去七个月从二成上升至二成九。去年国会改选在布艾省击败Néstor Kirchner的Francisco de Narváez评估,他们夫妻俩有五五波的机会赢得明年总统大选。一直想要拿回裴隆党控制权的Néstor Kirchner大言不惭地表示,他与跟随者有信心「决定继续执政到2020年」。不同于委内瑞拉的战友Hugo Chávez,Kirchner夫妇还不必废止任期限制,因为他们两人可以继续轮流执政。

The fortunes of Argentina’s leaders have often been tied to global demand for the country’s farm exports. The Kirchners are no exception. Although the price of soyabeans, the most important crop, has fallen by 40% from its peak in July 2008, it is still 60% above its historical average. Moreover, after the pampas suffered a severe drought last year, they are now enjoying a bumper harvest. The government collects 35% of these revenues.


Ms Fernández has further lined the public purse by nationalising the country’s pensions and raiding its foreign-currency reserves. When the Central Bank’s president, Martín Redrado, opposed her plan to use $6.6 billion of reserves to repay debt (which would free other revenues for new spending), she forced him to resign. Congress subsequently approved the policy.

Cristina Fernández还藉由将阿根廷养老年金收归国营和挪用外汇存底等手段进一步充实国库。当中央银行行长Mart Redrado反对她的计划挪用66亿美元外汇存底偿付外债(将会为新的开支争取其他收入),她强迫央行行长去职,后来国会赞成此一政策。

Armed with these funds, the president is trying to buy back estranged voters’ affection. In October she extended the child-support system for poor families, at a cost of $2.6 billion a year. The government is also wooing younger voters with plans to distribute 250,000 laptops to secondary-school students and provide 15,000-20,000 cheap mortgages, many of which will go to first-time buyers. In addition to their direct benefits, these initiatives have helped kick-start the economy, which should grow by more than 5% this year.


Ms Fernández is also benefiting from the way in which her husband boosted the power of the presidency. He reduced the share of taxes that is automatically transferred to the provinces, making their governors more dependent on the central government for financing. Many legislators are beholden to the governors. By artfully increasing public spending to its allies among them and withholding it from foes, the government has retained much of its sway over Congress despite lacking a majority. It has also got bills approved by cleverly exploiting the opposition’s divisions and picking off factions within it.

Cristina Fernández亦因夫婿过去提升总统职权而受益。Néstor Kirchner降低自动转至地方政府的统筹分配税收,使地方的省长在财政上更加依赖中央政府。很多国会议员对于省长负有责任。藉由技巧地提高给结盟省长的公共支出并扣留政敌省长上缴的税金,政府尽管在国会欠缺多数,但一直保有绝大步分的国会掌控权。政府也曾巧妙制造反对党分裂和收买反对党的派系来让法案通过。

Finally, although the economic costs of Argentina’s 2001 debt default have mostly been left behind, its political consequences continue to favour the Peronists. The Radicals, their traditional rivals, had the misfortune to be in office during the crash, and voters have never forgiven them. Their implosion is a big reason for the opposition’s fragmentation. Many presidential hopefuls from the opposition have less in common with each other than with the Kirchners. Perhaps the strongest contender is Mr de Narváez, a businessman and dissident Peronist. But since he was born in Colombia, his candidacy depends on the Supreme Court reinterpreting a constitutional bar on foreigners.

最后,虽然阿根廷2001年拖欠外债的经济代价几乎已经抛在脑后,但政治上的结果却延续有利于裴隆党。传统上的宿敌激进党不幸在这段动荡期间执政,而选民还未原谅他们。他们之间内讧更是反对党四分五裂的最大因素。反对党很多有望问鼎总统的人士,他们彼此之间的共同点甚至比与Kircher夫妇还要少。或许最强的竞争者就是富商和裴隆党异议人士Francisco de Narváez。但是,因为他出生在哥伦比亚,他的候选资格取决于最高法院重新解释外籍人士参选的宪法门坎。

As neighbours such as Brazil and Chile forge ahead, the average Argentine has plenty to grumble about. One in three is still poor and inflation is heading for 30%, although the government rigs the figures at a third of that. But the Kirchners will not bury themselves. To dethrone them the opposition will have to move beyond knowing whom they are against and decide whom and what they are for.