Argentine leader's re-election bid gains steam - poll

BUENOS AIRES Thu Jul 7, 2011 2:17am BST

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gestures during a ceremony in which she unveiled Economy Minister Amado Boudou as her running mate for the upcoming October 23 presidential elections in Buenos Aires, June 25, 2011. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gestures during a ceremony in which she unveiled Economy Minister Amado Boudou as her running mate for the upcoming October 23 presidential elections in Buenos Aires, June 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Voter support for Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's re-election rose in the last few weeks but her lead over Congressman Ricardo Alfonsin narrowed slightly as his backing jumped, a poll showed on Wednesday.

Fernandez's support now stands at 38.3 percent, up 4.9 percentage points from three weeks ago, according to a survey by local pollsters Management & Fit. The president made a long-awaited announcement that she would seek a second term on June 2.

Alfonsin, a social democratic legislator and son of former President Raul Alfonsin, polled at 23.2 percent of potential votes, up nearly 8 percentage points from last month and putting him 15 points behind Fernandez. Her lead stood at 18 points in the prior survey.

The centre-left Peronist president has approval ratings of about 50 percent, buoyed by swift economic growth of around 9 percent annually, a fragmented opposition and lingering sympathy nine months after her powerful husband died.

Fernandez chose Economy Minister Amado Boudou as her vice presidential candidate and vowed to continue current policies, which include a strong state hand in the economy, heavy energy and transportation subsidies and trade protectionism.

She is drawing on strong support among young Argentines by giving prominence to a pro-government youth movement founded by her son.

Polling a distant third in the Management & Fit survey is the Socialist governor of Santa Fe province, Hermes Binner, with 6.4 percent support. He is followed by former President Eduardo Duhalde, a dissident Peronist who has 5.4 percent backing.

Argentina's political opposition failed in its attempts to unite behind a single candidate to challenge Fernandez, which political analysts said could result in a first-round victory for her on October 23.

To avoid a run-off election, a candidate must win more than 45 percent of votes or at least 40 percent with a 10-point advantage over the next biggest vote-getter.

The Management & Fit poll was taken between June 29 and July 2 among 1,738 people. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

(Reporting by Alejandro Lifschitz; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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