No one was surprised when Cristina Fernández de Kirchner became Argentina’s first elected woman president after the elections last weekend, least of all Kirchner herself. After her husband, President Nestor Kirchner, decided to not seek re-election and anointed her his successor in Argentina’s Peronist Party, Kirchner felt so secure with her election prospects that the powerful senator didn’t really bother to campaign at all. She opted to spend most of the last two months touring Western Europe and North America – hobnobbing with foreign leaders and dignitaries.
But her knack for fashion and her academic speeches make lady Kirchner a strange candidate to wear the mantel of populist general Juan Peron. That’s a fact that Kirchner, who sees herself as more of a Latin American Hillary Clinton than a 21st Century Evita, is quite aware of. In a victory speech Sunday night, Kirchner said being Argentina’s first elected female president made her feel “an immense responsibility to my gender.” But for a candidate who hardly campaigned, what remains to be seen is what form that responsibility will take after the last champagne bubble pops.