Peronist Néstor Kirchner, the former governor of Santa Cruz, became Argentina's president in May 2003, after former president Carlos Menem abandoned the race. Kirchner vowed to aggressively reform the courts, police, and armed services and to prosecute perpetrators of the dirty war. Argentina's economy has been rebounding since its near collapse in 2001, with an impressive growth rate of about 8% since Kirchner took office. In March 2005, Kirchner announced that the country's debt had been successfully restructured. In Jan. 2006, Argentina paid off its remaining multi-million IMF debt early, a dramatic move that not all economists thought was beneficial.
In October 2007, First Lady Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was elected president, taking 45% of the vote. Elisa Carrió, a congresswoman, placed second, with 23%.
On December 10, 2007, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner took over the presidency from her husband, Néstor Kirchner, in a ceremony at Argentina's Congress. She kept many of her husband's ministers, but implied that she would introduce changes to the country during presidency. Fernandez said she will create a new ministry for science and technology to boost innovation, and stated that she would make "necessary corrections" to help the inflation problem in Argentina. Although she is as much a nationalist as her husband and refuses to get involved with the IMF, Fernández has shown interest in forging closer ties with the United States, Europe, and Brazil.