BUENOS AIRES: They say opposites attract but it doesn't seem so for many Argentine members of Tinder K, a closed Facebook dating group drawn together by a shared vision of the perfect romantic partner: single, Peronist and Kirchnerist.
The K stands for Cristina Kirchner, the two-term former president who despite facing a slew of corruption trials, remains arguably the country's most popular politician as crisis-wracked Argentina heads into Oct 27 polls.
The feisty 66-year-old leftist is seen by many as a standard-bearer for Peronism, the political philosophy of former military leader Juan Peron, credited with upending Argentina's class structure and championing the downtrodden during three presidential terms that ended in the mid-1970s.
"I couldn't have a partner who didn't share my political conviction," said Estefania, a 35-year-old who met her politically compatible partner on Tinder K.
She readily concedes that in Argentina, politics rule people's personal lives. "We are ravaged by politics!"
True to form in Argentina's politically polarised society, the mostly left-leaning Tinder K group is united by their trenchant opposition to center-right President Mauricio Macri, whose election victory in 2015 put an end to 12 years of Peronist populism under both Kirchner and her husband, Nestor Kirchner.
Politically oriented dating sites and apps began in the United States with the likes of DonaldDaters and TrumpSingles, or for Democratic Party supporters, Liberal Hearts.
Slowly the idea is taking hold elsewhere in South America.
In Brazil, the Workers' Party is starting its own dating site for supporters of its jailed leader, ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
But experts are warning of the dangers of such "political niches" on social networks.
"The exchange of ideas is essential for a democracy, but dating applications with an ideological bias limit the probability of meeting a partner who does not validate your ideas," said Chelsea Reynolds from California State University, Fullerton.
"Two decades ago you could fall in love with someone at university even though your political ideas were not the same, today that would be practically impossible," she said.
According to experts, social networks' tendency to group like-minded people has contributed to the phenomenon.
"All the technology is aimed at creating niches with common denominators in ideological terms," said Argentine political consultant Carlos Fara.
"These niches encourage the most extreme positions," Fara said.
"You don't choose your family, but a partner has to think the same politically," said Estefania, a shop assistant who lost her job a month ago to become one of the country's growing number of unemployed.
A member of Campora, a Kirchnerist youth movement, she met her partner, who lives in Buenos Aires, on Tinder K, which boasts a total membership of 12,000 people.
Group membership is restricted to singles. Get togethers include parties to raise money for charity, outings and debates on social issues.
That's how "several couples" came to be. "Last year one of them got married," she said.
The three affiliated Tinder K groups online were set up "to push back against the four years we've had of Macrismo," she said.
Barring a shock, Argentina will revert to Peronism in the October polls with Alberto Fernandez the likely winner, with Kirchner as his vice-president.
Macri has stuttered through the final year of his presidency and is given little chance of re-election after suffering a drubbing in August primaries.
Soaring inflation and rising poverty have stirred outrage at his government's belt-tightening policies.
Many Tinder K members are inspired by the model of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner who were married for 35 years until his death in 2010.
"The love they had for each other is a reference point. I see the photos and video of how they looked at each other, how he admired her," said Estefania.
But being a Kirchnerite is no guarantee of finding love within the group, says Omar San who created the oldest of the three groups, claiming 6,000 members.
"We can find you a K partner, but afterwards we can't guarantee that it'll work out." – AFP
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