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Will she, won't she? Argentine ex-president teases election run with book launch

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By Lucila Sigal

BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – A book launch event in Buenos Aires is Argentina’s hot ticket of the week.

Argentina’s divisive ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is presenting a book of memoirs on Thursday night in an event expected to draw thousands that is fanning speculation she may announce plans to run in national elections later this year.

Fernandez, a left-leaning firebrand who led Argentina between 2007 and 2015, is widely expected to challenge centre-right President Mauricio Macri and has been rising in the polls as an economic crisis hammers the government.

Argentina is struggling with stubborn inflation and a tumbling peso currency, troubles that have driven down Macri’s popularity in opinion polls and fuelled speculation that Fernandez could make a successful comeback.

The book, a 600-page collection of personal stories that has been selling fast in the Latin American country, lashes out the at the self-described “militant Peronist” leader’s political rivals and refers to arch nemesis Macri as “chaos.”

Fernandez has not yet officially announced plans to run in October, but she has over a month until a June 22 deadline requiring her to formally declare. She may well choose to steer clear of the topic on Thursday.

Reuters reported in February that Fernandez intended to run against Macri, though she has faced pushback, including from within the broad Peronist opposition, where she is a major force.

The question mark over Fernandez’s plans to run have roiled local markets. International investors are wary of the populist ex-president, who during her tenure raised taxes on exports, increased subsidies and brought in currency controls.

The book will be presented at the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires, with high levels of security and giant TV screens broadcasting her presentation inside and outside the venue. Around 1,000 invited guests will be in the room itself.

Fernandez’s presentation occurs weeks before she is scheduled to stand trial on graft charges, including allegations that she led a corruption ring involving politicians and business executives during her time in office. As a sitting senator, however, Fernandez has immunity from arrest.

Fernandez has repeatedly denied the charges.

(Reporting by Lucila Sigal, writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Adam Jourdan and)

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