Argentina’s former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has closed her campaign for a seat in the Senate with a lead of several points in the opinion polls over the candidate for President Mauricio Macri’s ruling party.
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Fernandez held the final rally of her campaign at a public university building in La Matanza which has closed for lack of funds.
The congressional primaries have been dominated by the contest in Buenos Aires between Fernandez, of the Citizens’ Unity, or UC, alliance, and Macri’s former education minister Esteban Bullrich.
The former president told her supporters, "The man who they said was the best minister of education ever, now has to hide as a candidate." Referring to the abandoned university halls, she said, "everything is ready, even the plants and flowers are ready, but the government hasn’t made the final payments to allow the university to open."
According to an average of thirteen polls at the beginning of August, Fernandez was on 33.8 percent, four points ahead of Bullrich, who had 29.69 percent.
All polls place Fernandez ahead, with Analogias giving her an 11 point lead and OPSM giving her one of just 0.3 points.
The Open, Simultaneous, and Compulsory Primaries, or PASO as they are known in Argentina, are scheduled for Aug. 13, in a lead up to the national legislative elections on Oct. 22, which will be a contest for 24 positions in the Senate and 127 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
More than 30 million Argentines are expected to vote Sunday, 36 percent of them in the province of Buenos Aires, the largest electoral district in the country and a key victory for any party.
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For this election, Fernandez formed a new political alliance called Citizen’s Unity that looks to form a broad coalition of parties against the neoliberalism of Macri’s administration.
Fernandez, president from 2007 to 2015, will compete for the first time as an opposition candidate since she left office.
Bullrich, on the other hand, a former minister of Argentina’s governing party Cambiemos has sparked outrage after comparing abortion to femicide, claiming that women from the #NiUnaMenos movement against femicides were guilty of femicide if they decided to abort a baby girl.
As education minister — a position he left to run for senator — Bullrich led the massive budget cuts in the education system, sparking large protests to demand more investment in the sector.
Poverty has also been a key issue in protests against the government, with a recent study by the Catholic University of Argentina revealing that since Macri was sworn in, approximately 1.5 million people have been pushed below the poverty line.