Argentina: President Kirchner's Cabinet reshuffle

"Argentina: President Kirchner announces a Cabinet reshuffle after her government's poor showing in Argentina's mid-term elections."

President Cristina de Kirchner marked her return to work on 18 November from an extended medical leave of absence with a significant Cabinet reshuffle. This involved new appointments to key Ministerial posts in the Economic, Trade and Agriculture Ministries as well as to the Central Bank and as head of Cabinet.

This is perhaps a reflection of her need to demonstrate a renewed grip on the political agenda following her recovery from surgery. But it also shows that she felt that something had to be done to recover from her government’s relatively poor results from Argentina’s mid-term elections, held on 27 October 2013.

These were a significant political setback for her Presidency. In the all-important Province of Buenos Aires (representing 37% of the electorate), her main opposition rival, Sergio Massa, beat her chosen candidate by 12% of the votes. There were similar victories for opposition parties in other Provinces (Mendoza, Cordoba, Santa Fe) and the City of Buenos Aires. President Kirchner has lost much of the political support that she gained in the 2011 elections and only just retained her majority in the Senate and the Lower House.

President Kirchner is therefore most unlikely to be able to command the necessary two thirds control of Congress to be able to change the Constitution to enable her to stand for a third Presidential term in the 2015 elections. Even so, her party still dominates the political scene with 30% of the vote and the focus on the next two years will be on the succession within the Peronist movement (and it is by no means certain that any choice that she makes will succeed).

Opposition parties will have taken heart from the elections but will need to form a credible political alliance to be able to gain the Presidency in 2015. As yet, there is little sign of this.