Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the widow of former president Nestor Kirchner, has been sworn in for her second consecutive term as the President of Argentina. In 2007, she became the first woman to be elected for the post of first citizen in her country, and second woman ever to hold that position.
Born in 1953, Cristina entered politics from the youth movement of the Justicalist party in the 1970s. Professionally a lawyer, graduating from the National University of La Plata, she and her husband avoided politics during the military regime and practiced law. Returning to politics, Cristina was elected to the provincial legislature of Santa Cruz. From 1995, she was a member of the national legislature either as a member of the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate.
Nestor Kirchner was elected to Argentine presidency in 2003 and oversaw the resurgence of the economy of his country after the collapse and riots in late December 2001. By 2007, he was widely popular but did not seek re-election. His wife Cristina won the presidential nomination from their political party, Front for Victory. In the subsequent presidential election, she won over 45% of the votes cast.
Cristina de Kirchner’s presidency was initially marred by protests and falling approval ratings. The new taxation scheme introduced for agricultural exports generated massive protests, initially by farmers and later by other sectors of society. The controversy ended when the presidential sponsored bill was defeated at the national legislature. About 20 members of the legislature from her party defected.
However, in the latter years of her administration, Cristina Kirchner’s approval ratings improved amidst economic revival.
In the foreign policy sphere, Cristina de Kirchner leads what can be termed as a non-aligned path. Argentina is both a member of G-20 and G-77. She continuously challenges the British over the Malvinas (Falklands) issue. In September 2011, addressing the UN General Assembly, Cristina de Kirchner supported the Palestinian request to be seated at that Assembly. Meanwhile, Argentina has cultivated positive relationships with much of the countries in the world, including USA, many members of the European Union, Russia, China and India.
In regional politics, Argentina under Cristina de Kirchner has been an active player in South American integration. Argentina is a good friend of many Latin American nations from the left to the right in the political spectrum. She is a key player in Common Southern Market (Mercosur), Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the recently institutionalized Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). In May 2010, Nestor Kirchner was unanimously elected as the first ever Secretary-General of the UNASUR.
At times, during the first administration of Cristina de Kirchner, there were speculations on who was really running the country-the president or her husband. Then in October 2010, Nestor Kirchner died of heart failure. In the following June, Cristina de Kirchner announced that she was seeking re-election and won the presidency with more than 54% of the votes. It is nearly a 10% increase from her popular vote in the election 4 years ago.