Argentinean first lady claims victory in presidential elections; may avoid runoff

Monday, October 29, 2007
Argentina's presidential candidate of the ruling Frente Para la Victoria party, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, gestured before casting her vote Sunday at a polling station in Rio Gallegos, Argentina. (Natacha Pisarenko ~ Associated Press)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- First lady Cristina Fernandez claimed victory in Argentina's presidential election Sunday, with early results and exit polls suggesting she had avoided a runoff and become the first woman elected to the post.

Fernandez's husband, President Nestor Kirchner, is credited with Argentina's rebound from a 2001 economic collapse, and much of her support is due to his popularity.

She has been compared to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who like her is a lawyer and senator who soldiered alongside a husband as he rose from small-state governor to the presidency.

"We have won amply," she proclaimed, Kirchner standing at her side. "But this, far from putting us in a position of privilege, puts us instead in a position of greater responsibilities and obligations."

Her challengers were trying to force her into a Nov. 25 runoff. She needed 40 percent of the vote, with a lead of more than 10 percent over her nearest rival, to win outright.

Argentina's presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, right, and Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner, waved to supporters Sunday at their headquarters in Buenos Aires. (Daniel Luna ~ Associated Press)

Of the first 10 percent of polling places reporting, Fernandez had 42 percent of the vote, compared with 21 percent for former economy minister Roberto Lavagna and 18 percent for Elisa Carrio. Eleven others split the rest.

Six independent television networks, a private radio station and an opposition newspaper reported their exit polling indicated Fernandez has easily won a first-round victory. Five of the news organizations released their numbers, giving Fernandez between 42 and 46 percent of the vote, with advantages of 19 to 23 percentage points over Carrio.

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