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High stakes for the 'ruling couple' in Argentina's election

Former president Nestor Kirchner is running for a congressional seat in a bid to boost his sagging popularity, turning the election into a referendum on him and his wife, President Cristina Kirchner.

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When Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner succeeded her husband Nestor Kirchner, as Argentina's president in 2007, detractors warned of a scenario in which she and her husband would endlessly rotate in and out of the executive office, creating a virtual dynasty in Argentina.

Now that storyline seems part of an outdated narrative.

Case in point: In what is widely considered a bid to buoy the couple's sagging popularity, the former president has entered the race for a congressional seat in midterm elections Sunday, and in doing so, has turned a sleepy legislative affair into a plebiscite on the couple and one of the highest-stakes races in recent history.

"We are facing the end of the Kirchner era," says Jorge Giacobbe, a pollster in Buenos Aires.

Mr. Kirchner, who shepherded Argentina out of its devastating financial crisis of 2001-2002, enjoyed high approval ratings throughout his entire term.

Now, his wife's Peronist administration is in trouble. Ms. Kirchner's approval ratings have plummeted as low as 25 percent.

Congressional bid could backfire

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