Argentina’s Kirchner Stokes Speculation On Presidential Run

(Bloomberg) -- Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner called for a political “reorganization,” on Friday, hinting at the possibility of a presidential run next year as speculation builds about her candidacy.

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Kirchner, considered by many the most powerful leader in her ruling coalition, didn’t explicitly speak of running. But she told an arena full of union workers that “we were happy people” in December 2015 when her two-term presidency ended.

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“I’m going to do whatever I have to do so that our people, our society, can reorganize ourselves in a direction for the country that recovers the hope, strength and happiness of our people,” Kirchner said to applause at an arena in suburban Buenos Aires.

The vice president added “I don’t regret” choosing President Alberto Fernandez to lead the coalition’s ticket in 2019, citing how “the global panorama” was different back then, such as the possibility of former US President Donald Trump winning reelection.

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She also noted that Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was in jail at the time. A longtime Kirchner ally, Lula wore a baseball cap on Sunday after emerging victorious in Brazil’s election with the letters “CFK 2023.”

It was Kirchner’s first public campaign-style event since a failed assassination attempt against her on Sept. 1 that shocked the nation. Kirchner had kept a low public profile since the incident. On Friday, she called for democratic debate between parties without violence.

Leaders within her ruling coalition, including her son Maximo who is a congressman, have speculated on the possibility of Kirchner running for president again in next year’s elections.

Major tensions over economic strategy between Fernandez and Kirchner have become public in their three years in office as annual inflation is expected to reach 100% by December. Fernandez fired one of his closest ministers after criticizing Kirchner earlier this year, while his first economy minister resigned due to lack of political support.

Kirchner spoke at length Friday about improving workers’ salaries, calling for a permanent pay increase for all workers, and stricter price controls.

“Let’s recover that happiness that we had one time,” in 2015, Kirchner said. “That happiness that salaries were enough, that happiness of going to work and that happiness that there’s a future for the country.”

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