Argentina's First Lady Elected President

Argentina's first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner swept passed 13 other challengers to win the presidential election. She replaces her husband, President Nestor Kirchner.

Argentina's first democratically elected woman president promised to extend the economic revival her husband helped engineer following the country's collapse in 2001.

It is a highly unusual transfer of power between democratically elected spouses, and the party atmosphere reflected it. The crowd celebrated with wild cheer when Kirchner's name was announced.

Kirchner will occupy the country's presidential palace, or Pink House, 60 years after another famous political wife, Evita Peron, helped win women the right to vote in Argentina.

Thanking the nation for her wide margin of victory — some 20 points over her nearest rival — Kirchner said she had an immense responsibility because of her gender and expressed special gratitude to the women of Argentina.

Argentina Elects First Lady to Presidency

Argentine senator and first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wins by a comfortable margin.

hide captionArgentine senator and first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wins by a comfortable margin.

Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images

Voters in Argentina have handed the nation's presidency to first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who will take over from her husband, launching a political dynasty reminiscent of Juan and Eva Peron.

Fernandez, a lawyer and senator who followed her husband, current President Nestor Kirchner, as he rose from an obscure governorship, has also drawn strong comparisons to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

With 86 percent of polling places reporting, Fernandez had about 44 percent of the vote, compared with 23 percent for former lawmaker Elisa Carrio and 17 percent for former Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna. Eleven others split the rest.

According to Argentine electoral rules, Fernandez avoids a runoff with at least 40 percent and a margin of 10 percent over the runner-up.

Kirchner oversaw a dramatic recovery from a crippling 2001 economic crisis, repaying Argentina's entire $9.5 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund, although critics say Argentina would be riper for sustainable development if he had better managed the income from soaring commodity prices.

Analysts say a strong win gives Fernandez an opportunity to right the problems of her husband's administration, including high inflation, an energy crisis and a shrinking budget surplus.

"We have won amply," the 54-year-old said in her victory speech Sunday night. "But this, far from putting us in a position of privilege, puts us instead in a position of greater responsibilities and obligations."

A spokesman for second-place finisher Carrio said seven parties had filed a complaint alleging missing or stolen ballots. One representative of the ruling party was arrested on suspicion of trying to vote twice, and a judge extended voting by an hour in the capital because many polling stations opened late.

Argentina's 27.1 million registered voters also filled dozens of House and Senate seats and nine governorships. Vice President Daniel Scioli won the race for governor of Buenos Aires province, the country's second most powerful post.

Fernandez ran an unorthodox campaign, refusing to debate and spending much of the time abroad in photo-ops with world leaders. Her chic European dresses and designer bags drew comparisons with Evita Peron, another fashion-conscious and politically influential Argentine first lady.

She would be Argentina's second female president; Isabel Peron - who married Juan Peron after Evita's death - was his vice president when he died in 1974, and served for 20 chaotic months before a military coup ousted her.

As for Kirchner, he has said he'll be happy as "first gentleman" after he hands his wife the presidential sash and scepter on Dec. 10. But few expect him to fade too far into the background - and some even suspect the couple is plotting to reverse roles again in 2011.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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