Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Argentina's coalition government, led by President Mauricio Macri, made gains in national midterm elections over the weekend -- which were seen as a referendum on his leadership.
Macri's Cambiemos coalition won decisively across the country on Sunday.
In Buenos Aires, Senate candidate Esteban Bullrich defeated Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Macri's political rival and former Argentinian president by 4 percentage points.
Since an election victory provides the winning party with two senate seats and the runner-up with one, Sunday's results mean Fernandez will be in the Argentine Senate.
Cambiemos won about 40 percent of the votes, with Fernandez's Front for Victory party receiving about 30 percent. The vote kept Fernandez, the opposition leader, critical of Macri's austerity programs.
"We believe in the need to unite all the different political forces that believe this political and social model of austerity will only cause pain to most of the population," she said after the votes were counted.
Macri's party received more than half the votes cast in the capital, Buenos Aires.
"This victory is a huge recognition and a huge dose of support for the change that President Mauricio Macri is leading," said Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.
Half the seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies and one-third of Senate seats were contested in Sunday's election. Although no party won a majority in either chamber, Macri's coalition gained several seats in each. Early returns indicated Cambiemos would win 61 of 127 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 12 of 24 Senate seats.
The vote came several days after the discovery of the body of activist Santiago Maldonado, who disappeared after a crackdown on protests by the Mapuche -- an indigenous community in southern Argentina. His disappearance caused nationwide demands for officials to respond to accusations he was forcibly detained by police.