Argentine First Lady Cristina Fernandez won the country's presidency by a large margin, official results confirmed Monday. With over 96 per cent of the polling stations computed, the centre-left Fernandez obtained just under 45 per cent of the vote.
Christian Liberal Elisa Carrio came second with 23 per cent of the ballots, followed by centrist Roberto Lavagna - a former finance minister under Kirchner - on close to 17 per cent
To avoid a run-off, the top candidate needed one of two results: at least 45 per cent of the vote, or 40 per cent with a lead of more than 10 percentage points above the second-place finisher.
Fernandez, 54, wife of outgoing President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007), is set to become the first elected female president of the South American country, and will join Chile's Michelle Bachelet at the top level of South American politics.
"We have won by a large margin," Fernandez said in a first reaction late Sunday.
"This, far from placing us in some position of privilege, on the contrary, it places us in a position of greater responsibility and obligations," the first lady added.
Carrio complained about the slow count in the urban centres that constitute her stronghold and about the fact that Fernandez proclaimed her victory with well under 20 per cent of the votes counted. Carrio declined to concede defeat until the early hours of Monday, with over half the ballots computed.
"We believe that the trend confirms Cristina Fernandez as president and we congratulate her on her victory," Carrio said late into the night.
Lavagna in turn interpreted his third place as the basis for "a commitment" for the future.
Some 27 million Argentine citizens were entitled to vote.
No serious incidents were reported, although several opposition parties including those of Carrio and Lavagna formally denounced a lack of party ballots with their candidates names in some polling stations. In Argentina, each party's candidates are listed on a separate piece of paper which is placed in an envelope for counting.
Fernandez is set to be sworn in as president on December 10.