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World > South America > Argentina > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Argentina - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Argentina's constitution of 1853, as revised in 1994, mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. Each province also has its own constitution, roughly mirroring the structure of the national constitution. The president and vice president are directly elected to 4-year terms. Both are limited to two consecutive terms; they are allowed to stand for a third term or more after an interval of at least one term. The president appoints cabinet ministers, and the constitution grants him considerable power, including authority to enact laws by presidential decree under conditions of 'urgency and necessity' and the line-item veto.

Since 2001, senators have been directly elected, with each province and the Federal Capital represented by three senators. Senators serve 6-year terms. One-third of the Senate stands for reelection every 2 years. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to 4-year terms. Voters elect half the members of the lower house every 2 years. Both houses are elected via a system of proportional representation. Female representation in Congress--at nearly one-third of total seats--ranks among the world's highest, with representation comparable to European Union (EU) countries such as Austria and Germany. Female senators include Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was a nationally known member of the Senate for the Province of Santa Cruz before her husband was elected President, and was reelected on October 23, 2005 as a Senator for the Province of Buenos Aires.

The constitution establishes the judiciary as an independent government entity. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court with the consent of the Senate. The president on the recommendation of a magistrates' council appoints other federal judges. The Supreme Court has the power to declare legislative acts unconstitutional.

Political Parties
The two largest political parties are the Justicialist Party (PJ--also called Peronist), founded in 1945 by Juan Domingo Peron, and the Union Civica Radical (UCR), or Radical Civic Union, founded in 1891. Traditionally, the UCR has had more urban middle-class support and the PJ more labor support, but both parties have become more broadly based. The PJ does not currently have a recognized national committee or leader due to internal differences. President Kirchner, a Peronist by origin, nominally is head of his Frente Para la Victoria (FPV) coalition that includes Peronists and non-Peronists aligned with him. Kirchner announced in July 2007 that he would not run for reelection in presidential elections in October 2007, and publicly supported the candidacy of his wife, Senator Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Fernandez de Kirchner formally announced her campaign for the presidency in July.

While the national leadership of the UCR remains in opposition to the Kirchner government, many of its governors, mayors, and other representatives have allied with President Kirchner. In the April 2003 presidential elections, the UCR received only 2% of the national vote, the lowest tally in the party's history. The UCR continues to retain significant strength in many parts of the country, and persons identifying with the party govern roughly one-third of the provinces. The UCR is the only opposition political party with a nationwide structure.

Smaller parties, such as the center-right Propuesta Republicana (PRO) and the left-leaning Afirmacion para una Republica Igalitaria (ARI) represent various positions on the political spectrum, and are strongest in Buenos Aires. PRO's candidate for mayor of Buenos Aires city, businessman Mauricio Macri, won a strong majority in elections in June 2007. He defeated Education Minister Daniel Filmus, who was supported by President Kirchner, in a high-visibility second round vote.

Historically, organized labor--largely tied to the Peronist Party--and the armed forces also have played significant roles in national life. However, the Argentine military's public standing suffered as a result of its perpetration of human rights abuses, economic mismanagement, and defeat by the United Kingdom during the period of military rule (1976-83). The Argentine military today is a downsized, volunteer force fully subordinate to civilian authority.

Principal Government Officials
President--Nestor Kirchner
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Jorge Taiana
Ambassador to the United States--Jose Bordon
Ambassador to the Organization of American States--Rodolfo Gil
Ambassador to the United Nations--Jorge Arguello

Argentina maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20009; tel (202) 238-6400; fax (202) 332-3171.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Argentine Peso Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Argentine Peso Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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