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Cablegate: Argentina: Kirchners' Poll Numbers Plummet in Wake

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0848 1722038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 202038Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1390
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000848

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON EAGR EFIN ETRD AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: KIRCHNERS' POLL NUMBERS PLUMMET IN WAKE
OF FARM CRISIS

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 842
B. BUENOS AIRES 834
C. BUENOS AIRES 829
D. BUENOS AIRES 828 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) The 100 day farm crisis has had a dramatic and
negative effect on President Fernandez de Kirchner's (CFK)
poll numbers, according to results published today by leading
polling firm Poliarquia. CFK's positive image sits at 20
percent, a six percentage point drop over the previous month,
and a 36 percent drop since January. Her negative image is
up to 46 percent, a 34 percentage point increase since
January. These numbers confirm those of a less prominent
polling group, Giacobbe and Associates, published last week.
Husband and former President Nestor Kirchner has fared little
better; his positive number is higher at 33 percent, but this
is a 14 percentage point drop in the last month.
Poliarquia's poll was taken between June 2 and June 10, prior
to the significant events over the last week (reftels A).
One of Poliarquia's directors, Fabian Perechodnick opined
that, had the poll been taken this week after these events
and the polemic speeches from CFK and Nestor Kirchner, their
numbers would have been even lower.

2. (SBU) Nestor Kirchner, until fairly recently, had been
the teflon man, maintaining his high positive image while his
wife's numbers have steadily declined since January. His
subsequent drop in the polls can be explained by his higher
public profile of late: first with his assumption of the
peronist party leadership in April, and then with his (actual
and perceived) role in the lingering farm crisis. This is
reflected in the public's response to Poliarquia's poll
question: "Who is making the decisions in the government?"
Thirty-four percent responded that Nestor Kirchner was making
the decisions, 41 percent thought both Nestor and CFK were
making the decisions, while only 19 percent replied that they
believed CKF was calling the shots.

3. (SBU) Attention is now focused on the congress where, in a
joint session of the lower house's Agriculture and Budget
Commissions, legislators will begin debate June 23 on the
Casa Rosada's export tax/fee bill. Government officials are
now saying the bill will be fully debated and there is more
open talk about the possibility of modifying the draft
legislation. National Vice President and President of the
Senate Julio Cobos has invited governors of the 11 major soy
producing provinces to the Senate -- also on June 23 -- to
consult on the farm issue and the pending legislation. This
move was apparently not coordinated with the Casa Rosada, and
the press is reporting that pro-government governors in the
group were pressured not to attend and many are backing out
of the meeting. A senior PJ deputy from an agricultural part
of Buenos Aires province told the Ambassador June 20 that he
and many of his PJ colleagues hope to be able to conduct a
wide-ranging debate and not just to rubber stamp what the
government has submitted. If all goes well, the congress can
modify the bill to force a compromise to end the farm
dispute. He admitted, however, that it will be a struggle to
get this outcome, given hardliners on both sides of the
dispute.
WAYNE

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