Cristina Fernández de Kirchner threatens to upend Argentina again

FOR DECADES the city of Quilmes, a 40-minute drive south of Buenos Aires, has had the distinction of being the name of Argentina’s national beer. A German immigrant, one Otto Bemberg, started his brewery there, on the edge of the River Plate, in the 1880s; today Quilmes (now part of the AB InBev empire) is sold from Iguazú falls to Tierra del Fuego. But there is more than beer brewing in the city.

From the fall of Argentina’s dictatorship in 1983 to 2015, the Peronists, a populist movement, ruled Quilmes and its 650,000 inhabitants for all but eight years. Then President Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos movement ousted the mayor and city government, which had been loyal to his Peronist predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in a landslide.

Little more than a year ago, Mr Macri seemed assured of another victory in this year’s elections, due in October. Then investor confidence in his economic policy of gradual reform collapsed along with the peso, prompting him to secure a record $57bn bail-out from the IMF. With inflation at 56% and unemployment having grown by half, the chances of Mr Macri winning again now seem slimmer. On May 9th Ms Fernández launched a new book (which became an instant bestseller), seemingly signalling that she will enter the race. Quilmes is a battleground for their starkly different philosophies....

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