May 10, 2009 / 2:18 AM / 11 years ago

FACTBOX: Argentina's Kirchner to make bid for Congress

(Reuters) - Former President Nestor Kirchner will run for a seat in Congress in Argentina’s June midterm elections, hoping to boost the chances his wife, President Cristina Fernandez, will keep her congressional majority.

Here are some key facts about him:

* Kirchner, 59, was a little-known governor from a Patagonian oil province when he was elected president by default in 2003 after former President Carlos Menem quit the race. As Argentines reeled from an acute economic crisis, he painted himself as a moderate seeking to unite a nation fed up with politicians.

* Since they met at law school in the 1970s, Kirchner and Fernandez have taken turns in the political limelight. She was a close adviser during his 2003-2007 administration and he is seen as the mastermind of her economic policy since she succeeded him in December 2007.

* Kirchner oversaw Argentina’s recovery from the 2001-02 crisis and many Argentines credit him with fighting poverty and unemployment. His government’s restructuring of $100 billion in defaulted debt won him plaudits at home but irked investors and the country is still shut out of global credit markets.

* As Peronist party leader, Kirchner has close ties with the powerful mayors of Buenos Aires province — Argentina’s richest electoral prize and the area where he is most popular. His popularity has fallen in tandem with his wife’s due to a bitter conflict with farmers and a worsening economic outlook.

* Kirchner is given to fiery speeches peppered with leftist rhetoric and outspoken criticism of political rivals, private companies and the International Monetary Fund. Like Fernandez, he rarely gives interviews, saying he prefers to talk directly to the people at campaign rallies.

Editing by Peter Cooney

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