President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina has won re-election in a landslide which is historic for several reasons. With voting compulsory and 97 per cent of results declared, the winner's vote share of 54 per cent obviates the need for a runoff. The victory margin of 36 percentage points over the second-placed Hermes Binner of the Broad Progressive Front is the second largest in the country's history. It is exceeded only by the legendary Juan Perón's win in 1973, which included additional support under the complex two-round system for presidential elections. This time, Ms Kirchner won over 90 per cent of the vote in some provinces. Secondly, she is the first woman head of state in Latin America to win a second successive term in office. Thirdly, the President's Victory Front coalition has won eight out of nine provincial governorships, recapturing the wine-growing Mendoza province in the process. In effect, the electorate has resoundingly endorsed the political and economic strategies followed by Ms Kirchner and her predecessor, her late husband Néstor Kirchner.
Furthermore, the election results send messages far beyond Argentina's borders. They are consistent with the strong left and centre-left commitments Latin American voters have shown for a dozen years now, in Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile as well as Argentina. They also confirm the benefits of well-strategised government intervention in the economy. In the last decade, Argentine GDP has grown by 94 per cent and poverty among the 41 million population has declined by two thirds. Moreover, inequalities have been reduced, in contrast to countries where high aggregate growth has been accompanied by huge increases in inequality. It is true that Buenos Aires will need a backup plan for what is expected to be a slowdown in the country's global trade. Inflation at a decadal peak of 20 per cent remains a concern. But the successive Kirchner governments' strategies expose the hollowness of two current orthodoxies. The first is that recessions must be followed only by slow recoveries; the Argentine economy was back on its feet within three years of a financial meltdown in the late 1990s. The second shibboleth is that debt requires economic shrinkage. Argentina's revival started after it defaulted on a $95 billion debt and resolutely ignored the prescriptions of international financial institutions in order to revive a broadly interventionist political economy. That strategy could be a model for many other countries, and Ms Kirchner's renewed four-year mandate is therefore all the more welcome.