President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s coalition won just 32 per cent of the vote nationwide in Sunday’s mid-term congressional elections in Argentina, according to preliminary results with 43 per cent of the vote counted.
Half the seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies and a third of the seats in the Senate were up for grabs.
Turnout was 77 per cent, election authorities said.
The ruling Front for Victory suffered clear defeats against various opposition parties in the capital Buenos Aires and the four most populous provinces.
The party sustained setbacks in mid-term elections four years ago, but the Centre-Left Fernandez de Kirchner went on to win re-election in just one round of voting with 54 per cent of the vote against a deeply divided opposition.
Fernandez de Kirchner, 60, was unable to campaign in the mid-term elections after undergoing brain surgery on October 8. She cannot stand for re-election in 2015 after serving two consecutive presidential terms.
The preliminary results would leave the Front for Victory with narrow majorities in a National Congress where the opposition remains fractured. Fernandez de Kirchner would have needed two-thirds majorities’ supermajorities to push through a constitutional change lifting Argentina’s presidential term limits.
Support for the coalition after 10 years in power has eroded amid rampant crime, unpopular import restrictions and high inflation, which is widely regarded as exceeding 20 per cent amid a lack of credible official figures.
While the opposition remains divided, the ruling party lacks a natural presidential candidate to succeed Fernandez de Kirchner.
Sunday was the third anniversary of the death of the president’s husband and immediate predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, founder of a political movement known as Kirchnerismo. He was president from 2003.