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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The sudden death of former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, a key power broker in the government of his wife, President Cristina Fernandez, has left analysts wondering who will take on his role.
Kirchner, 60, Argentina's most powerful politician and a leading contender for next year's election, was seen as the architect of interventionist economic policies including the state takeover of private pension funds, price controls to stem high inflation and curbs on grains exports.
His departure raises uncertainty over whether Fernandez will change the couple's unorthodox policies and combative style, loathed by investors who poured money into Argentine debt and shares following news of his October 27 death.
They will be watching closely for signs of who Fernandez turns to replace chief adviser.
Following are four figures who could gain prominence:
Kirchner was widely seen as masterminding the government's unorthodox economic policy and Planning Minister Julio De Vido is being tipped to assume his behind-the-scenes role, perhaps supervising Economy Minister Amado Boudou. De Vido, who oversees hefty infrastructure spending and energy and transport subsidies, is seen as a "Kirchnerist" hard-liner capable of balancing the competing demands of powerful trade unionists and business leaders.
Kirchner used to say that one of the things he liked to do best was talk politics with his activist son Maximo Kirchner, 33, who some commentators have suggested could become his father's political heir. Maximo, who manages the family businesses in Patagonia, founded La Campora, a youth group that was involved in protests against the Grupo Clarin media conglomerate, which is at odds with the government over its news coverage. Fernandez could rely more heavily on her son for political advice following her husband's death.
Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez, a workaholic and long-time Peronist party politician, could be tapped by the president as she looks for a wily, tough-talking power broker to assume Kirchner's role as a nexus between the government and Peronist provincial governors and local mayors. Fernandez, who is not related to the president, served for years in the government of Buenos Aires province and moved into national politics at the height of an acute 2001/2002 economic crisis under former President Eduardo Duhalde -- one of Kirchner's biggest rivals. His Peronist party connections in Buenos Aires province, home to more than a third of voters, mean he could look to secure backing for President Fernandez if she seeks re-election in next year's presidential vote.
Kirchner and his wife have long relied on a small circle of trusted advisers, of which Carlos Zannini is already a member. Zannini is Fernandez's legal and technical secretary and served in the same role during Kirchner's 2003-2007 presidency, drafting numerous presidential decrees. He has been described as a "superminister." In his youth, he was a leftist militant and the low-profile lawyer is said to have the complete trust of Fernandez.
Editing by Helen Popper and Kieran Murray