State and politics
Argentina's constitution was adopted in 1853 and has been
reformed several times. Argentina is a federal republic made
up of 22 states (see Abbreviationfinder), a federal district and the
national territory of the Fire of Fire.
The president, who must be Catholic and born in
Argentina, is elected for a term of four years in direct
elections and can be re-elected once. The president is both
head of state and government.
The Congress, consisting of the Senate
and the Chamber of Deputies, has the legislative
power. The Chamber of Deputies has 257 members who are
elected for a term of four years. The Senate has 72 members,
three from each state and the federal district, and the term
of office is six years. Half of the seats in the Chamber of
Deputies and a third of the Senate are elected every two
The states are governed by their own governors and
legislative assemblies and have a certain autonomy in the
judiciary and administration.
The voting obligation formally applies to all citizens
between the ages of 18 and 70. From 2013, sixteen-year-olds
can also vote, but for them it is not mandatory. At least 30
percent of all members of Congress at national level as well
as in state parliaments must be women.
Argentina's politics have had three main actors since
1945: radicalism, peronismand the military. However, since
the defeat of the war against Britain in 1982 and the
catastrophic economic policies and violations of human
rights of the military governments (1976-83), the military
has practically disappeared as a political factor.
The party of radicalism Unión Cívica Radical
(UCR) was formed in 1890 and is a reform-friendly liberal
party with support from the middle class of Argentina. After
the return of democracy in the 1980s, the party approached
European social democracy and, under the democratization
process, pursued a successful reconciliation policy.
However, it was overshadowed by financial problems which
meant that the party lost in voter support.
Peronism was born in the 1940s as a support movement for
President Juan Perón's worker-friendly and nationalist
policies. In 1947, the movement was organized in the
Partido Justicialista ('Justice Party'). Peronism has
its ideological roots in the inter-war Southern European
corporatism and highlights nationalism and social justice.
Peronism is a pragmatic movement that brings together groups
from widely diverse social groups and political
orientations. Beyond ideological rhetoric, the content of
politics is adapted to prevailing trends in society. This
has caused severe internal conflicts, which in the 1970s
degenerated into a bloody settlement between the ruling
conservative Falcon and the leftist Montoneros.
In the 1980s, a renewed Peronism (Peronismo renovador)
emerged, which wanted to settle with corrupt union
leaders and notorious right-wing politicians. During the
early 1990s, a liberal policy was led by Carlos Menem, while
the pendulum swung to a more left-wing policy under the
Kirchner couple's leadership in the 2000s; Néstor Kirchner
was president in 2003–07 and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
ruled the country in 2007–15.
In the 2015 presidential election, the Peronist Party's
candidate Daniel Scioli (born 1958), former governor of
Buenos Aires province, was defeated by the mayor of the
capital, Mauricio Macri. He represents the center-right
party Propuesta Republicana (PRO) and received 51.5
percent of the votes in the second round. For the first time
in 14 years, the country's president did not come from the
Macri opted for a liberalization of the stagnant economy.
He pushed through huge savings packages of reforms that
caused popular dissatisfaction but failed to lift the
country out of the economic crisis. On the contrary, he was
forced to ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a
record-breaking emergency loan. Cambienos, the
alliance that PRO is a part of, won the 2017 parliamentary
elections but two years later Macri was voted out of the
presidential post. Conquered the peronist Alberto Fernández,
who was running for the alliance of Frente de Todos
with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as its vice presidential
candidate. He received 48 percent of the vote, that is, over
the 45 percent required to win in the first round.
See also History.
Argentina has both federal and provincial courts. The
federal judiciary, which deals with issues of national
interest, consists of the Supreme Court of Buenos Aires,
appellate courts and a number of courts of first instance.
Each province also has its own judicial organization and its
own procedural provisions. Material law is codified
according to continental European models, mainly Spanish and
Portuguese, but also influenced by French law. Italian law
has exerted influence on criminal and procedural law. The
death penalty was abolished in 2008.
The Argentine judiciary has been criticized as
ineffective and open to political influence despite several
reforms in the 2000s. The indigenous peoples of the country
face major obstacles in accessing both cultivation land as
well as education, health care and other basic services.
Among the problems in the Argentine judiciary are the
occurrence of arbitrary arrests, long waiting for trial,
detention and very harsh prison conditions. According to
public records, as many as 86 deaths, including 41 violent
ones, were recorded in federal prisons between January 2012
and mid-2013. Authorities documented nearly 900 cases of
torture or ill-treatment in federal prisons during the same
The media landscape in Argentina is polarized with a
privately owned media supporting the opposition, and a state
media supporting President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's
regime. Attacks on journalists are unusual in comparison to
other South American countries, but in 2014 the attacks
increased. Censorship is also not unusual for sensitive
issues. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for
2015, Argentina is 57th out of 180.
Sexual abuse of children and sexual exploitation of
children is a widespread problem. By law, the production and
distribution of child pornography is punishable, but
possession of child pornography for personal use is
Women's rights have been established through a series of
legislation that guarantees, among other things, the right
to equal pay for equal work and equality in marriage.
Violence against women is, however, a significant problem
and abuse that rape is rarely reported due to social stigma
or fear of further violence. According to official reports,
hundreds of women are murdered annually by their spouses,
boyfriends or ex-boyfriends.
Argentina has made significant progress in the 2000s
regarding the rights of LGBTQ people. In 2010, as the first
country in Latin America, it was legislated to allow gay
couples to marry, despite massive demonstrations organized
by the strong and influential Catholic Church in the
Stabilization of democracy and unstable economic growth
The growing discontent paved the way for the peronist
Carlos Menem's victory in the 1989 presidential election.
Despite his traditional Peronist campaign message, Menem
pursued a strict economic policy with, among other things,
extensive privatizations aimed at sanitizing the country's
economy. Notoriously high inflation was dampened, but at the
same time, extensive currency reform led to an overvalued
domestic currency and major financial problems with growing
foreign debt and low growth. In December 2001, a deep
economic and political crisis erupted as savers in panic
withdrew their savings, the banking system threatened to
collapse, government countermeasures led to protests and
unrest and one interim president after the other resigned.
As a result of four years of financial turmoil, Néstor
Kirchner from the leftist party of the Peronist Party won
the 2003 presidential election.
The period 2003–07 was characterized by good growth in
the economy and recovery after the economic crisis in 2001.
President Kirchner and his government therefore had stable
support, despite splits within the Peronist Party and
accusations of corruption, violation of power and flatness
towards rising inflation. Somewhat surprisingly, Néstor
Kirchner did not run for the 2007 presidential election,
instead his wife (former Senator for Buenos Aires) Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner resigned as a candidate. She won a
stable victory in the first round of the elections and took
office in December as Argentina's first elected female head
She promised to prioritize the fight against poverty and
unemployment and to strengthen regional trade cooperation.
One of Kirchner's first measures was to raise export taxes
on important agricultural products such as soy, wheat and
meat, which created a conflict with the country's farmer
Despite continued good growth, the country's structural
economic problems grew, manifested in the form of high
inflation, falling real wages and currency shortages. The
Peronist Party also continued to be characterized by
internal conflicts, and allegations of abuse of power were
directed against the Kirchner family. In October 2010,
Néstor Kirchner died in a heart attack and the following
year Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was re-elected
president, carried by a wave of sympathy. The Peronist Party
also won its own majority in both chambers of Congress.
Under Néstor Kirchner's leadership, Argentina had begun
to settle its bloody history, and several of the leaders of
the military dictatorship were imprisoned for human rights
violations. In 2010, the last leader of the military junta,
Reynaldo Bignone, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for
crimes committed during the dictatorship. Later that year,
former dictator Jorge Videla was also sentenced to life
imprisonment for crimes against humanity. He died in prison
in 2013. The data on how many people who were killed or
disappeared during the military dictatorship 1976-83 are
disintegrating. Official figures speak of over 11,000 people
killed, while human rights groups claim that there are
Despite strong economic growth in the 2010s, the
Argentine economy again fell into imbalance with rising
inflation as a result. The dissatisfaction with the
president and the government's policies led to large
demonstrations, strikes and protests. Former allies with
Kirchner, as part of the trade union movement, also took
part in the protests.
One of the causes of the economic uncertainty is the
international demand for repayments of Argentina's national
debt from the late 1990s. When the economy collapsed in
2002, Argentina canceled all payments and has since tried to
agree with lenders on new terms. Before settling the old
debt, Argentina is basically blocked from getting new credit
in the international currency market.
The issue of the Falkland Islands in the 2010s was once
again a way for the president to mobilize support. After the
war in the 1980s, relations with the United Kingdom
improved, although Argentina still formally requires
possession of the islands. Kirchner began to seek support
from mainly other Latin American countries to re-raise the
issue on the political agenda and be dealt with by
In early 2015, Kirchner went through one of his most
difficult crises when Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found
dead the day before he would have testified before a
congressional committee. He would then present his
conclusions from a lengthy investigation into the bomb
attack against a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994.
According to Nisman, Argentina and Iran had signed a secret
agreement to downplay Iran's role, and he accused President
Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timernan
of lie behind the settlement.
Nisman, who in 2004 appointed to lead the investigation
by former President Néstor Kirchner, claimed that the
negotiations between the countries were handled by bullies
and that Iran promised oil supplies in exchange for
Argentina stopping charges against some of the Iranian
agents accused of involvement in the bombing.
The police called it suicide but the suspicions that
Nisman was murdered instead immediately took off. Major
protests and demonstrations around the country demanded an
independent investigation into Nisman's death and his
accusations against the government. The president said a few
days after the prosecutor's death that it was not a suicide
but part of a conspiracy against the government and herself.
She accused the country's security services of being part of
the plot and announced that she intended to dissolve the
existing organization and create a new intelligence service.
The opposition was opposed to the proposal, saying it was a
way for the government to create a security police loyal to
the incumbent president rather than the country's interests,
but the proposal was voted on in both the Senate and the
Chamber of Deputies. Just over a month after Nisman's death,
a judge dismissed all charges against President Fernández de
Kirchner and the details of a secret agreement with Iran.
However, the suspicions regarding both a secret agreement
and the prosecutor being murdered remain alive, and along
with the ongoing economic crisis confidence in the president
Heads of State
||Juan Manuel de Rosas
||Juan Ramón Balcarce
||Juan Manuel de Rosas
||Justo José de Urquiza
||Domingo Faustino Sarmiento
||Julio Argentino Roca
||Miguel Juárez Celman
||Luis Sáenz Peña
||José Evaristo Uriburu
||José Figueroa Alcorta
||Roque Sáenz Peña
||Victorino de la Plaza
||Marcelo T. de Alvear
||José Félix Uriburu
||Roberto M. Ortiz
||Ramón S. Castillo
||Pedro P. Ramírez
||Edelmiro J. Farrell
||José María Guido
||Juan Carlos Onganía
||Roberto Marcelo Levingston
||Alejandro Agustín Lanusse
||Héctor J. Cámpora
||Jorge Rafael Videla
||Roberto Eduardo Viola
||Fernando de la Rúa
||Adolfo Rodríguez Saá (interim)
||Eduardo Duhalde (interim)
||Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner