Alicia Kirchner on Sunday secured a decisive win in provincial elections, retaining the governorship of Santa Cruz province, the Kirchnerite stronghold in the country's deep south.
Thousands of kilometres from Buenos Aires, where Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández declared victory of President Mauricio Macri in the primaries, the Kirchner team in Santa Cruz was declaring victory despite a delay in the vote count of 867 voting stations spread across the vast province.
The forecast for voting on Monday morning even put Alicia Kirchner's performance above her national ally, Alberto Fernández, by over seven percentage points.
"The opposition is showing a declining tendency with seven candidates for the governorship pooling 28 percent against our 55 percent," Governor Kirchner told reporters.
Minus four-degree-Celsius temperatures were recorded on election day in the province where late former president Néstor Kirchner began his rise to power. The province has been a sort of exile for many former officials and allies of the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner government.
At the Frente de Todos ("Front for All") bunker in Río Gallegos, the capital, outgoing vice-governor and national lawmaker-elect Pablo González described the win as "a good day for Patagonia."
"We have the will to continue transforming Santa Cruz," he said.
The Kirchner governorship, which was highly questioned for its handling of the province's dismal finances and labour tension, was challenged in the province by a number of opposition candidates, namely Senator Eduardo Costa representing the Radical Party.
In an unexpected twist, Governor Kirchner appeared alongside President Mauricio Macri when he visited the province in January, with the latter then seemingly in a much stronger position to contest his own re-election in October.
Speaking at the inauguration of a hydroelectric project, Macri said he “agreed with the governor that during an election one visits and presents his proposals but the day after [the election] we must all be working in the same direction, prioritising employment and inclusion opportunities”.