Argentina’s Fernandez may wield big influence after presidency

BUENOS AIRES, (Reuters) – Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez will step down as president in December, but her influence may remain strong enough to impede investment-friendly reforms in Congress if her ruling party wins legislative elections in October.

Ending speculation she might run for Congress herself, the outgoing two-term president is letting her economy minister, the architect of her interventionist policies, lead the Front for Victory party’s fight to retain control of the House and Senate.

“The candidate is the project,” Economy Minister Axel Kicillof told local radio on Sunday, following the deadline for candidates to register ahead of the August party primaries.

“Those of us who represent the Front for Victory will be there to carry on and deepen a project that is now 12 years old,” he said, referring to Fernandez’s eight years in power and the four-year presidency of her predecessor and late husband Nestor Kirchner.

Argentines will go to the polls on Oct. 25 to elect a new Congress and president. If Fernandez’s allies keep control of both legislative chambers, it may slow any market-friendly reform efforts by the next president, who is scheduled to take office on Dec. 10.

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