BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentine President Cristina Fernandez faces an election Sunday that will open a fierce struggle to reduce her powers, and her aides say she's not even watching the news.
Fernandez, 60, has been secluded in the presidential residence, recovering from skull surgery in the run-up to congressional elections that will decide how much control she'll have over Argentine politics during the final two years of her presidency.
Polls suggest the ruling Front for Victory and its allies will lose ground in both houses, burying the idea that her government will win the super-majority needed to change the constitution and enable her to run for a third straight term.
Without the threat of a "re-re-election" to keep rivals in line, come Monday it would be anything goes in the multifaceted Peronist party that dominates Argentine politics, some analysts say.
"It will initiate the internal succession process within Peronism, and the first very visible expression of this will be lawmakers switching sides," Argentine political analyst Ignacio Fidanza, who directs lapoliticaonline.com, told The Associated Press.
Fernandez underwent more follow-up tests Wednesday to make sure the blood on her brain discovered on Oct. 6 hasn't reappeared. While her doctors said she's recovering well, they also ordered that she avoid anything stressful until at least the second week of November. Fernandez had been the main attraction for slates of ruling party candidates, but now she won't even be part of the jostling for new positions that happens immediately after any election.
Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo said the president wasn't even told this week about a train crash that injured nearly 100 passengers and is causing new headaches for the government. "The president doesn't know about what happened," he said. "I don't think it would contribute to her recovery to learn about the episode."
Some polling suggests the ruling Front, known as the FPV, and its allies will barely hold onto their majority in the lower house and are more likely to lose the Senate.
She needs a majority in each house to reach a quorum and push through her agenda, and the ruling party has already lost some sure votes in the current Congress. Of 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the FPV has 115 official seats, but can depend on only 109 or 110 votes from its own members, which together with allies provides her with the total she needs.
In the current Senate, the FPV has 32 seats, and can count on allies for a total of 38 votes, barely more than the 37 needed for a majority in the 72-member chamber.
"It remains to be seen what will happen with the ruling party's allies, who could begin to move to the other side," said Mariel Fornoni, director of the Management & Fit consultancy.
Sunday's vote represents the beginning of the end of a cycle that began in 2003, when Fernandez's late husband, Nestor Kirchner, won the presidency. Kirchner restored power to the presidency and his wife has tightened her grip over the reins of the state after he died of a heart attack on Oct. 27, 2010.
Fernandez lost ground in congressional elections during her first four-year term, but she won back enough allies to push through an economic emergency law granting her power to unilaterally make major financial decisions without further consulting Congress. Fearful of losing that power after Sunday's vote, the government recently extended the "emergency" until the end of 2015.
The biggest threats for this president, Fidanza predicted, will be managing Argentina's immediate economic challenges and keeping rival politicians in line as a lame duck leader.
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