Sat, Mar 28, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Argentine elections move up from October to June


Argentine congressional elections have been moved forward four months in a push by the president to get campaign politics out of the way and focus on Argentina’s economic crisis.

The Senate on Thursday approved holding the election June 28, instead of in October. The lower house approved the bill last week.

Opposition leaders called the rescheduling an attempt by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to lock in votes for political allies before her influence erodes further.

Nearly a dozen lawmakers have abandoned Fernandez’s Peronist party this year and the economy is showing signs of stalling.

But Fernandez and lawmakers loyal to her Peronist party, which has a majority in both houses of Congress, said economic challenges were paramount in the decision.

Come June, voters will elect half of the 256-member chamber of deputies and a third of the 72-member Senate.

On Wednesday night, the national statistics institute reported that Argentina’s economy grew at the slowest monthly rate since December 2002, as the global downturn curtailed demand for its soy, wheat, beef and corn exports and wary consumers tightened purse strings.

A February poll by the Poliarquia firm showed Fernandez with 29 percent support, down from 50 percent when she succeeded her husband as president in December 2007. The survey had a sampling error margin of 3 percentage points.

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