BUENOS AIRES, Oct. 24, 2005 (IPS/GIN) -- In the first legislative elections since he took office, Argentine President Néstor Kirchner saw his support base grow, and has largely taken the helm of the Peronist party, dealing a defeat to its conservative leaders.
But although the results will provide smoother sailing for Kirchner, who had won the 2003 elections with a mere 22 percent of the vote, he will still lack the majority needed in the lower house to push through bills without having to strike deals with rival Peronist factions or the opposition.
Cabinet chief Alberto Fernández said Monday that the outcome amounted to "virtually a referendum" on the government's performance so far.
The most impressive victory was enjoyed by the president's wife, Cristina Fernández, who held onto her seat in the Senate. But she now is representing the province of Buenos Aires, home to nearly 40 percent of the country's voters, instead of the southern province of Santa Cruz.