Argentina has elected its first female president.
Though not the first woman to hold office in the country’s history, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is the first to gain office by winning the popular vote.
It may well have been Kirchner’s numerous Eva Peron-esque posters lining the streets of Buenos Aires that pummeled her face and name into the heads of Argentina’s history afficionados and musical buffs.
Or it may or may be related to the fact that, like Eva Peron, Cristina Kirchner has risen to fame on the coattails of her husband, Nestor Kirchner, Argentina’s current president.
But as Kirchner ascends to her seat of power, the question remains: is it her policy, her gender or her husband that should be celebrated?
In an ideal election, voters would choose candidates based on policy, not on gender, race, or some other superficial factor.
But as we’re learning here in the United States, these exterior factors are hard to ignore.
It is difficult not to compare Cristina Kirchner to a certain female presidential contender in our own country, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Both Kirchner and Clinton earned law degrees (and met their husbands in law school), vigorously campaigned for their husbands’ presidential campaigns, and currently hold independent political positions.
But both have also been unable to hold office independent of their popular husbands’ looming reputations.
Nestor Kirchner’s past success in lifting Argentina out of a massive budget deficit had earned him approval ratings of over 60 percent.
Many critics say that although Nestor Kirchner decided not to run for re-election, his wife’s popularity will allow the couple to rule the country consecutively for twelve years, provided one of the Kirchners wins the presidency again in four years’ time.
Similar criticisms have been aimed at Hillary Clinton.
Some feel her husband’s immense popularity in the United States might ultimately overshadow her seat of power.
And whether it’s good or bad, both Clinton and Kirchner face harsh scrutiny in their presidential campaigns simply because of their popular political partners.
These women must distinguish themselves as capable political figures, while the world continues to compare them to their spouses, whose politics they firmly stood behind, and for whom they avidly campaigned.
It’s hard to separate these women from the men they’ve been attached to for years. And some will argue we shouldn’t; afterall, these men will be given hefty seats of power and influence, too.
But choosing a candidate means settling on one name, marking one check-box, making one choice. So we ask ourselves, without the looming presence of their male counter-parts, would we still vote for these ladies?
All candidates have baggage—be it their personal life, their gender or their family history—it’s just that some baggage is more familiar than others.