Nestor Kirchner became president by default.
A little-known governor from a province in Patagonia, he was elected in 2003 after his rival, Argentina’s ex-leader Carlos Menem, quit the race.
With his wife and adviser Cristina by his side, Kirchner had an instant crisis on his hands. Argentina’s crippling financial woes were having devastating consequences for its people.
Kirchner’s deal with the IMF to help get the country out of debt was just one step he successfully took to help get Argentina back on its feet.
During his four-year tenure, the left-of-centre Kirchner, from the dominant Peronist party, also forged close links abroad with other Latin American leftists. He would later become Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations, a post he held at the time of his death.
Kirchner acted for the victims of Argentina’s dictatorship and as a defender of human rights. He was key to efforts to bring military officers suspected of abuses who had benefited from amnesties to trial.
Kirchner’s political legacy will always be linked to that of his wife. When Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner succeeded him in December 2007, he in turn became one of her closest advisers.
The husband and wife team was expected to change places again in next year’s elections. However Kirchner’s recent bad health had dampened speculation that he would stand again for the presidency.