BUENOS AIRES : A Test for Menem

After two years in office, Argentine President Carlos Saul Menem faces the first electoral test of his administration's popularity in voting for provincial governorships and seats in the national Congress.

The election round begins Sunday in the provinces of San Luis, San Juan and Rio Negro, with additional voting in other provinces Sept. 8 and Oct. 27.

According to opinion polls and political analysts, Menem and his Peronist Party are likely to suffer setbacks, largely because of corruption scandals that have plagued his administration and painful economic austerity measures that it has imposed.

Analysts say the ruling party may lose more than half the 17 governorships (out of 23) it now holds.

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