Argentina, Uruguay Turn to the Center-Right?

Argentina, Uruguay Turn to the Center-Right?

On June 28, Argentina and Uruguay held simultaneous elections that fell largely under the radar of the U.S. media, focused as they were on events in Honduras. However, while less dramatic than the coup in Tegucigalpa, the two elections are significant in that they herald an emerging shift in the South American political pendulum towards the center-right.

Both elections brought back political forces that were convincingly defeated in previous contests. Moreover, according to some polls, major changes are likely in key presidential elections taking place in Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay in 2009 and 2010. Although electoral processes in the Southern Cone region are dynamic, voters appear willing to give a new opportunity to center-right coalitions, ending the widespread rule of center-left governments.

In Argentina, voters flocked in large numbers to elect half of the lower house of Congress and a third of the senate. With former president -- and current first gentleman -- Nestor Kirchner running for office, the legislative elections were portrayed by both incumbents and opposition as a referendum on the current government. The decision taken by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to move the legislative elections forward to June (they were originally scheduled for October) had already created discord across the Argentine political spectrum. (See Vinod Sreeharsha's WPR Briefing.) On the campaign trail, political parties focused on candidates' personality traits and celebrity clout, while seemingly essential issues such as the global economic crisis, the government's nationalization policies, and Argentina's foreign policy remained largely absent.

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