Argentina Government and Politics

Argentina is a democratic, presidential federal republic. The country got its first constitution in 1853; Today’s constitution, which is largely based on the old one, dates from 1994. Argentina has been characterized by turmoil throughout much of its history, and with an exchange between civil and military rule. Following the notorious military regime 1976-83, Argentina has been ruled by elected leaders with a degree of stability according to Argentine conditions, with the exception of the year end 2001/02, when the country changed its president four times in less than two weeks during a deep economic crisis.. Civilian life has for many years been characterized by two parties, the populist-radical (but winged) justistic (peronist) party (PJ) and the moderate, the civil-radical union (UCR). In the 2007 elections, two women stood as presidential candidates for the Victory Front (Peronists) and the Civil Coalition respectively; former candidate Cristina Kirchner won and succeeded her husband as president.

Argentina Country Flag

The Legislature is a National Congress (Congreso de la Nación), consisting of a 256-member House of Representatives elected for four-year direct elections (half of the seats renewed every other year) and the Senate, which has 72 members elected by the provincial assemblies for six years (1/3 of the seats are renewed every two years). The voting age is 18 years. The executive is added to a president, elected in direct elections for four years, with the possibility of re-election once. The President appoints and heads the government, is a military commander, appoints (with Senate approval) Supreme Court judges, officials, ambassadors and bishops, and is thus the dominant figure in Argentine politics. The president must be Roman Catholic and born in the country.

Argentina is divided into 23 provinces and a federal district (Buenos Aires). Although the provinces elect legislative assemblies and governors, it is not uncommon for central government to intervene in provincial politics.


The courts are in principle independent, but have been influenced by political pressure during periods of military rule. The Supreme Court, which oversees the other courts, is a nine-member Supreme Court. The members of both this and local courts have been appointed by the President, with the approval of the Senate. There is a federal appeals court with three departments. In addition, there are six other, specialized appeals courts in Buenos Aires, as well as federal appeals courts in eight other cities. The provinces have their own judicial system, with a supreme court in each province.


Nestor Kirchner’s center/left wing in the Peronist Party – Partido Justicialista (PJ) – strengthened its position in the national election supplementary elections in 2005 and now got both a majority in the Senate and the largest block in the lower house. However, Kirchner chose to resign after his first term in office, and in the fall of 2007, Argentina got its first elected female president – his wife, the 55-year-old lawyer Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Already in the first round of elections, she defeated by a solid margin a total of 14 opponents from a weak and divided opposition. She entered politics as a senator from Buenos Aires at the 2005 election, following a duel with President Eduardo Duhaldes wife Hilda. The ensuing popularity wave reminded many of Juan Peron, and the financial windfall was good at the presidential inauguration in December 2007. But the challenges were also significant. Unemployment and poverty continued to pose serious social problems, despite an economic growth rate of 8-9%; The gap between the richest and the poorest parts of the population has doubled since the military coup in 1976. Crime increased, statistics told of more deaths than traffic deaths in Buenos Aires, and Argentina emerged as a major country in drug exports from South America to the United States and Europe.

Cristina de Kirchner proposed to curb its predecessor’s collaboration with Hugo Chávez ‘Venezuela and consolidated the cooperation with Lula da Silvas Brazil, thus building on a broad-based cooperation agreement signed in 2004, as a counterbalance to the United States in the work on an All-American Free Trade Area. But she also signaled a foreign policy course with more room to improve relations with the United States than under its predecessor. However, the vision for Argentina to take on a more active international role soon had to give way to domestic problems.

A strong escalation of the export tax on key agricultural products maize, soy and cereals triggered roadblocks, strike actions and mass demonstrations – the battle also broke down in the Peronist Party – while a tax bill ended with a thunderous political defeat in the National Assembly for the new president. In addition, food prices increased by 30-40% in 2008, and economists estimated real inflation to be around 25%, compared to officially 9%.

However, a controversial plan was adopted to nationalize the country’s ten private pension funds and increase state ownership in the business sector, as the financial crisis in the autumn of 2008 became noticeable in Argentina as well. Kirchner’s popularity dropped like a rock, including among her core voters, workers and the lower middle class. The president promised to continue the spouse’s policy, but critics believed it was mostly made when Nestor Kirchner, now the leader of the Peronist Party, figured as her only real adviser. In the June 2009 by-election, the party lost its pure majority in both chambers of the National Assembly, and Nestor Kirchner did not reach the regional elections in the Peronist High Court of Buenos Aires.

Argentina Head of Government

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