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Argentine president keeps nation on tenterhooks

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Helen Popper reports today from Buenos Aires, where President Cristina Fernandez is keeping voters and financial markets guessing on whether she will run for a second term. See our special report “Widowhood, Peron nostalgia and Argentine politics.”

President Fernandez’s approval rating is now running at more than 50 percent, about the same level as when she was elected to suceed her late husband, former President Nestor Kirchner.

She has staged a remarkable recovery. At the height of a messy conflict with farmers over soy taxes in 2008, her approval rating sank to 20 percent.

Few Argentine leaders have managed such a dramatic turnaround, but Fernandez has been given a helping hand by the opposition’s disarray, strong demand for the country’s grains exports and for cars from neighboring Brazil as well as an outpouring of public sympathy following Kirchner’s sudden death in October.