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Argentina's President Fernandez takes nosedive in popularity

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 28th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has experienced a recent downturn in popularity, ranting only 30 percent in approval ratings. Members of the South American nation, long considered the most European of nations south of border, have grown increasingly worried about inflation and crime.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A telephone survey of 2,259 voting-age Argentines showed widespread dissatisfaction with the interventionist policies that won Fernandez a landslide re-election less than a year ago.

Fifty-nine-year-old Fernandez, a Peronist, part of a bloc of left-leaning South American leaders including Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador fell by vertiginous 8.1 percentage points between August and July -- alone.

Argentina has been largely shunned by the international bond market since its 2002 sovereign debt default. Argentina's subsequent embrace of policies that emphasize state intervention in the markets coupled with heavy government spending intended to stoke economic growth has won too few fans in the international community.

In September of 2011, one month before winning her second term, Fernandez had 64.1 popularity while campaigning on promises of deepening the interventionist policy model of her late husband and predecessor as president, Nestor Kirchner.

The Argentine economy has since slowed, and the poll suggests most people are not buying Fernandez's argument that external factors, such as Europe's financial issues, are mostly to blame.

Economic activity here was flat in June, according to the official EMAE index. Of those surveyed by Management and Fit, 44.5 percent said government policy was the main cause of the stagnation, and only 8.0 percent of poll respondents blamed it on spillover from sluggish world growth.

In addition, the perception of an increase in street crime was first on the list of complaints voiced by poll respondents, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. No official crime statistics were available to back this up.

Annual inflation was also another concern voiced in the survey. The government fines economists who publish their inflation estimates, which tend to double or triple the official figures.

Participants in the poll also cited growing worries about joblessness. The country's second quarter jobless rate edged up to 7.2 percent from 7.1 percent in the first three months of the year.

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