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Vitale, María Alejandra

Special Issue, 45:3, pages 250-263

Legitimizing Leadership: Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s 2007 Inaugural Address

Abstract: In this essay, I examine how Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner used her 2007 inaugural address to legitimize her political leadership. Placing the address within Argentina’s political climate and working in light of the fact that Fernández de Kirchner’s spouse was the out-going president, I use theories of political ethos to examine the challenges Fernández de Kirchner faced in inaugurating her presidency. I suggest that she constructed a hybrid ethos, combining multiple presidential images to reconcile competing concerns. I treat in depth three elements of that hybrid ethos: the ethos of a presidential couple that positioned Fernández de Kirchner alongside her popular husband; the ethos of a woman president building on a tradition of other influential Argentine women; and the ethos of a teacher-expert whose knowledge authorized national leadership. Enacting these varied ethe, I argue, Fernández de Kirchner turned political challenges to her advantage and crafted the presidency she would assume.

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