Impact of Argentina’s elections on the AMIA bombing and Nisman cases

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who has at least eight corruption and treason charges against her, won a seat in the Argentine senate during Sunday’s midterm elections. Kirchner’s party came in second to the Macri-backed candidate Esteban Bullrich, who won by four points. Despite her party’s loss, the senate seat will grant her immunity from being prosecuted for the charges should they find her guilty, unless impeachment proceedings or other actions are taken that would remove the immunity.

Among the charges is her alleged involvement in covering-up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist attack against the AMIA center. That charge was recently combined with a pending treason charge against her. Federal judge Claudio Bonadio has subpoenaed Kirchner and 13 others for their involvement in the alleged cover-up.

Kirchner is due to be called for a court hearing this Thursday, where she is expected to testify or present a written declaration responding to the accusations.

Like Kirchner, former President of Argentina Carlos Menem, now 87, is also due in court this Thursday for his involvement in another cover-up of the 1994 terrorist attack relating to bribing local police and others. The trial deals with the illegal payment of 400,000 USD to Carlos Telleldin for false testimony “and the deliberate abandoning of the investigation into the Syrian angle which involved the Kanoore Edul family.”[1]

On Wednesday, Menem will have an audience for the appeal of the 4.5 year prison sentence he received for “irregularities.” The sentence also bars him from holding public office. If the sentence holds, Menem will be forced to step down from his senate position and will be placed on house arrest instead of serving time in prison. [2] If his immunity is stripped, he could be presumably be prosecuted for his role in the AMIA cover-up.

Menem’s and Kirchner’s fates seem to have aligned not just in their criminal prosecutions but also in their performance on the midterm elections. Like Kirchner, Menem was defeated by President Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos coalition in his home province of La Rioja but was still able to secure a senate seat.

More broadly, the Argentine legislative elections on October 22 demonstrated that President Mauricio Macri’s governing coalition has vast and strong approval from the public, whose votes in key provinces – including Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santa Fe, and Mendoza – delivered the President an undisputed electoral victory.[3] Other notable victors included Elisa Carrio, who won her seat in the National Deputy of Chambers with 50% of the vote in City of Buenos Aires.[4]

According to electoral authorities sourced by news outlet Telesur, the turnout for the elections was almost 80%.[5] Macri’s front, Cambiemos, won about 41% of the national votes.[6] The results predict a positive outcome for President Macri’s re-election prospects in 2019. The victory of the incumbent party in long-held Peronist districts further demonstrates “a changing political climate in Argentina,”[7] one that could now exclude Peronism.

The Peronist movement “has no clear frontrunner to challenge Mr.Macri if he runs for re-election,”[8] though sources close to former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner argue that she is the most poised to lead the opposition.[9]Though early to judge, her weak electoral performance indicates that her possibilities of winning a 2019 presidential election are said to be slim if she decides to run.


[1] “Comenzaran en octubre los alegatos en la causa por el encubrimiento del atentado a la AMIA” Telam. September 18, 2017. (

[2] “Después de las elecciones, Cristina Kirchner, Carlos Menem y Julio De Vido encabezan la agenda judicial” Martin Angulo, Infobae. October 23, 2017. (

[3] “Argentina election gives president a legislative majority” The Washington Post. October 23, 2017. (

[4] “Los oscilantes números de Elisa Carrió: del 1,82% como candidata a presidenta al 50% como diputada” La Nacion. October 23, 2017. (

[5] Argentina’s Legislative Elections: Fernandez Elected, Macri’s Party Makes Gains. Telesur. October 22, 2017. (

[6] “Argentine President’s Coalition Wins Midterm Elections” Taos Turner, The Wall Street Journal. October 23, 2017. (

[7] “Argentina’s Leader, Mauricio Macri, Bolstered by Election Results” Daniel Politi, The New York Times. October 22, 2017. (

[8] “Argentine President’s Coalition Wins Midterm Elections” Taos Turner, The Wall Street Journal. October 23, 2017. (

[9] “Cristina advirtió que no se retira y empuja al peronismo a una refundación” Gabriel Sued, La Nacion. October 23, 2017. (