Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez has suffered a setback to her chances of running for a third term in office.
In congressional primary elections – which were seen as a mega-opinion poll on her interventionist economic policies – voters rejected her hand-picked candidate in Buenos Aires, the country’s biggest province.
Nationwide, Fernandez’ coalition got only a quarter of the vote in the primaries.
The process to choose contenders for October’s mid-term congressional elections provided a big boost to a former ally of hers, the ex-Cabinet chief Sergio Massa. He beat Fernandez’ candidate in the Province of Buenos Aires and is now seen as a strong presidential contender in 2015.
Buenos Aires, where more than one third of the country’s voters live, is a must-win region.
President Fernandez has insisted that she is not thinking about a possible third term.
Currently there is a two term limit and the constitution would have to be amended to let her to run again.
If the October congressional elections follow the same trend as the primaries she is not likely to get enough support in congress for such an amendment.
Fernandez’ popularity is fading due to double-digit inflation, an over-valued currency, protectionist trade policies and tightening foreign exchange controls.
Her decision to nationalise Argentina’s private pension system and top oil company YPF have also upset consumers, investors and trade partners.