In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The country’s population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, with Italy and Spain providing the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina’s history was dominated by periods of internal political unrest and conflict between civilian and military factions.
After World War II, an era of Peronist populism and direct and indirect military interference in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983 after a failed bid to seize the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) by force, and has persisted despite numerous challenges, the most formidable of which was a severe economic crisis in 2001-02 that led to violent public protests and the successive resignations of several presidents. The years 2003-15 saw Peronist rule by Nestor and Cristina FERNANDEZ de KIRCHNER, whose policies isolated Argentina and caused economic stagnation. With the election of Mauricio MACRI in November 2015, Argentina began a period of reform and international reintegration.
chief of state: President Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ (since 10 December 2019); Vice President Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (since 10 December 2019); note – the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ (since 10 December 2019); Vice President Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (since 10 December 2019)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by qualified majority vote (to win, a candidate must receive at least 45% of votes or 40% of votes and a 10-point lead over the second place candidate; if neither occurs, a second round is held ); the president serves a 4-year term (eligible for a second consecutive term); election last held on 27 October 2019 (next to be held in October 2023)
election results: Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ elected president; percent of vote – Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ (TODOS) 48.1%, Mauricio MACRI (PRO) 40.4%, Roberto LAVAGNA (independent) 6.2%, other 5.3%
description: bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of:
Senate (72 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 6-year terms with one-third of the membership elected every 2 years)
Chamber of Deputies (257 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms with one-half of the membership renewed every 2 years)
Senate – last held on 27 October 2019 (next to be held in October 2021)
Chamber of Deputies – last held on 27 October 2019 (next to be held in October 2021)
election results: Senate – percent of vote by bloc or party – NA; seats by bloc or party – TODOS 13, Cambiemos 8, FCS 2, JSRN 1;
Chamber of Deputies – percent of vote by bloc or party – NA; seats by bloc or party – TODOS 64, Cambiemos 56, CF 3, FCS 3, JSRN 1, other 3
highest courts: Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (consists of the court president, vice president, and 5 justices)
judge selection and term of office: justices nominated by the president and approved by the Senate; justices can serve until mandatory retirement at age 75; extensions beyond 75 require renomination by the president and approval by the Senate
subordinate courts: federal level appellate, district, and territorial courts; provincial level supreme, appellate, and first instance courts
Political parties and leaders
- Argentina Federal [coalition led by Pablo KOSINER]
- Cambiemos [Mauricio MACRI] (coalition of CC-ARI, PRO, and UCR)
- Citizen’s Unity or UC [Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER]
- Civic Coalition ARI or CC-ARI [Elisa CARRIO, Maximiliano FERRARO]
- Civic Front for Santiago or FCS [Gerardo ZAMORA]
- Everyone’s Front (Frente de Todos) or TODOS [Alberto Angel FERNANDEZ]
- Federal Consensus or CF [Roberto LAVAGNA, Juan Manuel URTUBEY]
- Front for the Renewal of Concord or FRC
- Front for Victory or FpV [coalition led by Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER and Agustin ROSSI]
- Generation for a National Encounter or GEN [Monica PERALTA]
- Justicialist Party or PJ [Miguel Angel PICHETTO]
- Radical Civic Union or UCR [Alfredo CORNEJO]
- Renewal Front (Frente Renovador) or FR [Sergio MASSA]
- Republican Proposal or PRO [Mauricio MACRI, Humberto SCHIAVONI]
- Socialist Party or PS [Antonio BONFATTI]
- Socialist Workers’ Party or PTS [Jose MONTES]
- Together We Are Rio Negro or JSRN [Alberto Edgardo WERETILNECK]
- We Do For Cordoba (Hacemos Por Cordoba) or HC [Juan SCHIARETTI]
- Workers’ Party or PO [Jorge ALTAMIRA]
- Worker’s Socialist Movement or MST [Alejandro BODDART; Vilma RIPOLL]
- numerous provincial parties
Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Although one of the world’s wealthiest countries 100 years ago, Argentina suffered during most of the 20th century from recurring economic crises, persistent fiscal and current account deficits, high inflation, mounting external debt, and capital flight.
Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER succeeded her husband as president in late 2007, and in 2008 the rapid economic growth of previous years slowed sharply as government policies held back exports and the world economy fell into recession. In 2010 the economy rebounded strongly, but slowed in late 2011 even as the government continued to rely on expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, which kept inflation in the double digits.
In order to deal with these problems, the government expanded state intervention in the economy: it nationalized the oil company YPF from Spain’s Repsol, expanded measures to restrict imports, and further tightened currency controls in an effort to bolster foreign reserves and stem capital flight. Between 2011 and 2013, Central Bank foreign reserves dropped $21.3 billion from a high of $52.7 billion. In July 2014, Argentina and China agreed on an $11 billion currency swap; the Argentine Central Bank has received the equivalent of $3.2 billion in Chinese yuan, which it counts as international reserves.
With the election of President Mauricio MACRI in November 2015, Argentina began a historic political and economic transformation, as his administration took steps to liberalize the Argentine economy, lifting capital controls, floating the peso, removing export controls on some commodities, cutting some energy subsidies, and reforming the country’s official statistics. Argentina negotiated debt payments with holdout bond creditors, continued working with the IMF to shore up its finances, and returned to international capital markets in April 2016.
In 2017, Argentina’s economy emerged from recession with GDP growth of nearly 3.0%. The government passed important pension, tax, and fiscal reforms. And after years of international isolation, Argentina took on several international leadership roles, including hosting the World Economic Forum on Latin America and the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, and is set to assume the presidency of the G-20 in 2018.
Unless otherwise specified, the information above comes from the Central Intelligence Agency’s The World Factbook. All photos and text reproduced here are in the public domain. Last updated on March 18, 2020.