WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Argentina's midterm congressional elections will take place June 28, having been accelerated four months because of the country's rapid economic decline. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner brought the elections forward, which critics are seeing as a referendum on her and her husband's, former president Nestor Kirchner, economic policies. Gallup Polls suggest that Fernandez's government faces more hurdles than the affects of the global economic slowdown. Argentines' approval of their country's leadership has declined precipitously over the past three years.
Fernandez has been president of Argentina since December 2007, after she was easily elected as political successor to her husband, Nestor Kirchner, who had been in office since May 2003. The first couple leads the Front for Victory party, a coalition of Peronists and non-Peronists. Argentines' level of approval of their leadership fell from 62% in May 2006 to 29% in August 2008, with disapproval increasing from 24% to 62% over the same period. Approval had fallen before Fernandez was elected (during the last year of Kirchner's leadership), and it was even lower when Gallup polled Argentines again after her first nine months in office.
Argentines confidence in their national government also declined over the same period, from 52% in May 2006 to 29% in August 2008. The proportion of respondents who did not have confidence rose from 41% to 64% within the same three years.
Argentine attitudes toward their economic conditions had grown more pessimistic even before the global economic crisis hit in late 2008. Between 2006 and 2008, the percentage of Argentines who said their economic conditions were getting better fell from 61% in May 2006 to 27% in August 2008. Only 14% of respondents said their economic conditions were getting worse in 2006; by 2008 that figure had increased to 46%. Gallup finds a strong relationship in Argentina between those who thought economic conditions were getting worse and those who disapproved of the country's leadership.
During the current election campaign, the first couple has warned voters that, despite the poor economic conditions in Argentina, a vote against the Front for Victory party could usher even further deterioration. This pronouncement has likely played to Argentine fears of their economic future: The IMF predicts a 1.5% decline in GDP for 2009 and estimates inflation is at nearly 20%. Yet, Fernandez's economic policies are not without blame, such as her decision to raise taxes on farm exports that led to extended rural protests. Ultimately, years of declining Argentine confidence in the government and national economy could hamper the Front for Victory party's ability to maintain its majority in the Argentine legislature.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in between May 2006 and August 2008 in Argentina. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.3 to ±3.8 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.