Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is leading opinion polls ahead of October presidential elections, spoke in public for the first time this year on Thursday to present her memoir but left her supporters hanging after opting to not unveil plans about a potential bid.
Greeted to a large, emphatic crowd – and thousands more standing in the rain outside watching on jumbo screens – the former president discussed her new book, Sinceramente (“Sincerely”) at the annual Buenos Aires International Book Fair.
She was interrupted several times by chants of “my dear president” and “we’re coming back.” Flags and posters reading “Cristina 2019” were on sale while politicians from her coalition and union leaders applauded from their seats.
“Argentines are living through difficult times,” said Fernández de Kirchner, who was president from 2007 to 2015. “We can build something different.”
A self-described populist, Fernández de Kirchner spoke on a range of topics during the 30-minute presentation including the US economy, the need for a “social contract” to protect the most vulnerable and her late husband Néstor Kirchner.
More than five months before the vote, Fernández de Kirchner, who still faces multiple corruption cases though enjoys immunity as a senator for Buenos Aires Province, is polling slightly higher in potential runoff scenarios than President Mauricio Macri who is favoured by investors. The mere prospect of her coming back to power has rattled local markets in recent weeks as political uncertainty upends attempts to mend a battered economy and stop the free fall of the peso.
While she refrained from any strong, combative language against the government, her party loyalists were shown harassing a TV reporter from Grupo Clarín’s TN network, a frequent target during her time in office.
True to her style, Fernández de Kirchner may keep her supporters, investors and political foes in suspense until the deadline to register on June 22.
by by Patrick Gillespie and Jorgelina do Rosario, Bloomberg