Argentina chooses its 12th president in 40 years of democracy; see timeline

Argentina celebrated 40 years of democracy in 2023. During this period, it has had 11 presidents, five of whom did not serve a full term.

Two of them were important at the start of the country’s redemocratization and the last four stood out for their political aspects and their social proposals.

These four, over the past 20 years, have handed the country over to their successor, always with inflation worse than when they took power.

Chronology of Argentine presidents

Alberto Fernández (Current – ​​from 2019 to December 10, 2023)

Current President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández / Photo: Gabriel Bouys/Pool via REUTERS

The current president of Argentina was elected with former president Cristina Kirchner as vice president. Currently, they are the greatest representatives of the left-wing movement launched by her ex-husband, Kirchnerism.

Fernández is linked to this movement and, therefore, to Peronism. Both camps are left-wing, progressive and defenders of democracy.

Kirchnerism has implemented several social policies in Argentina, which are today strongly criticized by the right and by the candidate Javier Milei (far right).

Although he could run for re-election, Fernández announced long ago that he would not do so.

Under his government, the country has faced numerous problems including the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the worst droughts on record and an exorbitant rise in inflation, which reached 142.7% per year last week .

Over the past 20 years, every Argentine president has left office, leaving inflation worse than when they took office.

Argentina is used to strong leaders who command their own political forces. This is not the case for Fernández, who chairs the coalition led by Cristina Kirchner. Another leader of the coalition is his nominated candidate, Sergio Massa.

Mauricio Macri (2015 to 2019)

Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri
Former President Mauricio Macri / Photo: @mauriciomacri/Twitter/Reproduction

Unlike Fernández, Macri is a businessman, executive, sports director (he chaired Boca Juniors) and engineer who represents the Argentine right.

He was the only candidate in the country’s history to reach the second round in second place and, despite this, turn the tide and win the election.

His victory puts an end to 12 years of Kirchnerist government. He was also the first Peronist in over 70 years to complete his term.

Macri attempted to be re-elected, but failed. He was the first president to run for office, unsuccessfully.

He is linked to the candidate who came third in the first electoral round, Patricia Bullrich.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007 to 2015)

Argentine Vice President, Cristina Kirchner / 11/17/2022 REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

She was the first woman to hold the Argentine presidency by direct vote and held the position for eight years (two terms).

She began her first term shortly after her ex-husband left office in 2007.

Main name of Kirchnerism (left-wing political movement), Cristina is a controversial name in Argentina, loved and hated by many.

Currently vice president, she was the victim of an assassination attempt in Buenos Aires at the end of 2022. The attack only failed because the weapon used failed at the time of the shot.

The same year, she was sentenced for corruption to six years in prison and disqualification from holding public office, but she appealed the decision.

Néstor Kirchner (2003 to 2007)

Former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner after Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, his wife, was sworn in as Argentina's first elected president, completing a rare transfer of power from husband to wife, at the Argentine National Congress in downtown Buenos Aires.
Former president Néstor Kirchner, ex-husband of Cristina Kirchner, died in October 2010 / Photo: Sergio Dutti/Estadão Conteúdo

A Peronist and social democrat, he defended the ideals of political sovereignty, economic independence and social justice.

He sought to differentiate himself from previous Peronist leaders. He had controversial clashes with other political or social forces and maintained the polarization of public opinion.

He gained many followers, characterizing the beginning of Kirchnerism, which is a branch of Peronism, but which enjoys support and opposition from Peronists.

In a message on social networks, the current president, Alberto Fernández, paid tribute to Néstor on the day of his death: “13 years after his departure, I remember my friend Néstor Kirchner, the man who, with his politics, his convictions and his strengths, transformed Argentina.

Kirchner sought to increase integration between Latin American countries, attempted to strengthen Mercosur and improve foreign relations with Brazil.

He also tried to remain an intermediary between Brazil and Venezuela, considering the Brazilian Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) too conservative and the Venezuelan Hugo Chavez too anti-American. He also worked with Fidel Castro of Cuba and Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Néstor Kirchner (middle) and presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil during a 2006 meeting in Brasilia
Néstor Kirchner (middle) and Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil during a 2006 meeting in Brasilia / Photo: Ricardo Stuckert/PR

From 1999 to 2003

The four-year period had five different presidents in Argentina. None of them were Peronists.

  • Eduardo Duhalde (2002 to 2003 – for a year of 143 days)
  • Eduardo Camaño (2001 to 2002 – for three days)
  • Adolfo Rodrígues Saá (seven days in 2001 – for seven days)
  • Ramón Puerta (two days in 2001 – for two days)
  • Fernando de La Rúa (1999 to 2001 – for two years and 11 days)

Carlos Menem (1989 to 1999)

He identified as a Peronist, but pursued a liberal economic policy. He was a strong political leader, with many supporters, in what became known as menemism.

He is the second president elected after the period of military dictatorship. His party, Justicialista (the main party of Peronism), was divided into two parties and he stood out as the main leader.

Raúl Alfosín (1983 to 1989)

First president after the military dictatorship that removed Isabelita Perón from the Argentine presidency in 1976.

He denounced several crimes committed during the dictatorial period and, as a lawyer, filed several habeas corpus petitions for victims of forced disappearances under the civil-military government. He also denounced crimes committed by military dictatorships in other countries.

*Published by Pedro Jordão, with information from CNN Spanish

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