After the election of Argentine Pope Francis, the euphoria over his designation - or "Francismania" - has unleashed a wave of Catholic fervor in
There is no question that Francis has become the most beloved figure in
Unlike late first lady
Hardly a day goes by without a new anecdote about his humbleness making the front pages.
People are still relishing the recent headline about the pope's personal call to his newspaper delivery kiosk in
The pope enjoys an unprecedented 90 percent approval rating, according to a soon-to-be-released poll. Comparatively, most polls show President
On Thursday, during a visit to the
But when it comes to how "Francismania" will affect Fernandez's apparent bid to change the constitution to seek another new reelection, opinions are more divided.
One group of thought says there will be a "Francis effect" that will help Fernandez's party win October's congressional elections and change the constitution, because the pope's election has helped lift the public mood, diverting attention from rising inflation, record crime rates and fears of a new economic crisis.
Fernandez, who had strained relations with the pope when he was archbishop of
The smiling pictures of Fernandez and the pope during his inauguration in the Vatican will now help the president, according to this school of thought.
A second group of political analysts believe the "Francis effect" will neither help nor hurt Fernandez.
"This pope will change the world, but he won't be able to change
Fraga noted that since the pope's election, Fernandez has not ended her attacks against independent media, or against her political rivals, despite the new pope's historic calls for dialogue and political tolerance.
On the contrary, the government last week issued an order that in effect prohibits supermarkets from advertising in newspapers, which will financially strangle the main independent dailies that are critical of Fernandez, Fraga noted. The rule will not affect pro-government newspapers, which depend mostly on government advertising.
Finally, a third group of political analysts believes the "Francis effect" will hurt the Fernandez government, because the pope's messages against authoritarianism, intolerance, and hubris will be read by most Argentines as indirect criticisms of Fernandez.
"A clash is inevitable, and the clash will end up hurting Cristina," says
My opinion: Despite Fernandez's last0minute turn to embrace "Francismania," the pope's emergence as the most popular figure in
Granted, Pope Francis will most likely not make any political statements about Argentine politics. He is expected to make his first visit to
But in his homilies during his first Latin American visit to
At the very least, "Francismania" will have a dampening effect on Fernandez's ability to circumvent the rules of good democratic behavior - and civility - to get re-elected at any cost.
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(c) 2013 Tribune Media Services , "Argentine President May Be Hurt by 'Francismania'"