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Argentina's Presidential Campaign in High Gear


The campaign in Argentina's presidential election is in high gear, but voters appear as ambivalent about the candidates as ever.

With the presidential election just two weeks away on April 27, the campaign is in full swing in Argentina and with that, the political mudslinging that has come to characterize elections here.

Candidates have been trading accusations of corruption and hurling very personal insults at one another. The campaign offices of one of the presidential candidates, Nestor Kirchner, were firebombed twice this week. It's business as usual on the campaign trail, in what is the most unusual political election in recent Argentine history.

With the country mired in a deep five-year recession, voters have made political change the top priority in this presidential election. Yet, the three candidates who are enjoying the most support in the polls are all longtime politicians - including former president Carlos Menem.

Besides Mr. Menem, the front-runners include Nestor Kirchner and Adolfo Rodriguez Saa - both experienced provincial governors with a large political base in their own constituencies. But, so far, none has garnered more than 22 percent in the opinion polls.

Their most vocal critic is Ricardo Lopez Murphy, a U.S.-educated economist who promises to use a progressive fiscal policy to turn around Argentina's ailing economy. Leftist candidate Elisa Carrio has the most radical rhetoric of the five front-runners, but is considered a longshot for the presidency.

According to opinion polls, no candidate is expected to win the 45 percent of the votes needed to avoid a second round run-off, almost guaranteeing that Argentina's campaign season will run well into the month of May.