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Cablegate: Argentine Presidentqs Approval Ratings Take a Hit

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0563 1201638
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291638Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0905
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000563

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINE PRESIDENTQS APPROVAL RATINGS TAKE A HIT


1. (SBU) Summary: Local papers report that President Cristina
Fernandez de KirchnerQs approval ratings have fallen as low as 36%
because of her handling of the rural sector strike and growing
concerns over inflation and insecurity. The papers do not name
specific polling firms, however, because most firms have delayed the
official release of their latest numbers. To help boost numbers the
government is reportedly trying to pull together a set of measures
for a new QlaunchQ on ArgentinaQs May 25 independence day. They
seem to be thinking of a new Qsocial pactQ as well as a hoped for
solution to the rural strikes. New cabinet shifts are also still
rumored. End summary.

Anonymous Pollsters
-------------------

2. (U) Approval ratings for President Cristina Fernandez de
Kirchner (CFK) have been missing from most papers since the rural
strike in mid-March. Polls are usually completed by the end of the
month and released to local papers. This month, however, most
polling firms officially have declined to publish numbers until
after the agriculture sector crisis is over. The pollsters argue
that their decision is methodologically based on the "high
volatility" of public opinion in this situation. Some have spoken
to newspapers on an "off-the-record" basis, but decline to release
the polling data. Dailies "La Nacion" and "Critica" both reported
that CFK's approval ratings are now as low as 36%, down somewhere
between 8 and 10 points from March. Leading circulation daily
"Clarin," citing Graciela Romer (the only pollster who has released
data), had CFKQs approval at 41%.

3. (SBU) A more likely explanation for the lack of specific polling
data is that the government does not want the low approval ratings
publicly released. In the same vein, the pollsters seem to be
holding data back because so many of them do business with the
government. "La Nacion" reported on Sunday that out of 20
nationally recognized polling firms, 12 are regularly contracted by
the government. Telam, the government news agency, predictably
highlighted a poll that gave CFK an approval rating of 62.2%.

Nestor's Shadow
---------------

4. (SBU) Nestor's approval rating has similarly suffered, but to a
lesser degree than his wife's. "Critica," citing a
government-commissioned poll, noted that NK has 47% approval
ratings, which is also a notable drop from earlier numbers. One
Embassy contact in the polling sector said that releasing NKQs
approval ratings would be tricky, as the Casa Rosada was acutely
aware of possible negative implications of Nestor maintaining
numbers about 10 points higher than CFK and much closer to 50%.
(Note: CFKQs approval has always been notably lower than NestorQs
and she won 45% of the vote.)

Comment
-------

5. (SBU) The lack of polling data has not caused much concern, as
many local papers have widely reported "off-the-record" numbers on
the decline in CFKQs approval ratings. CFK probably (and
reasonably) expects that demonstrated progress with the rural sector
will help restore her image. The government however, is reportedly
planning a big QrelaunchQ around May 25 independence day which they
would like to conclude a Qsocial pactQ among government, industry,
banking, and unions, among other potential signs of life. New
cabinet shifts also still are thought possible as part of the
effort. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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