Argentine leader suffers fresh provincial poll blow

BUENOS AIRES: Argentine President Cristina Fernandez suffered an electoral setback when her candidate for governor in the farming province of Santa Fe finished a distant third, partial results showed.

Opinion polls show center-leftist Fernandez has a wide lead over opposition rivals three months from a presidential election, but opponents hope a run of poor provincial results could help them close the gap. Santa Fe, which has a population of about 3 million, is a Socialist stronghold and party candidate Antonio Bonfatti won narrowly with 37.5 per cent, official results showed with three quarters of polling stations counted.

Unexpectedly close behind was center-right candidate Miguel Del Sel, a comedy actor and political newcomer allied with Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri, with 36.3 per cent.

Government-backed candidate Agustin Rossi, a loyal congressman, trailed third with 22.3 per cent. ”You have to learn from adverse results,” he said as he conceded defeat.

However, Fernandez’s re-election bid may not suffer significant damage from on Sunday’s result and the expected defeat of her mayoral candidate in the capital next weekend.

Her Peronist party has traditionally struggled in both areas, but has still gone on to triumph nationally. Analysts say some voters plan to back Fernandez even if they vote for opposition candidates in prior local elections. (PTI)

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