Dating from 1853, amended in 1994, Argentina’s constitution now stipulates a four-year presidential term; no president may serve more than two consecutive terms. There are no term limits on senators, elected for six years, or deputies, who serve four.
Elections and dates are ostensibly fixed, but military coups, other political crises, and simple expediency have often disrupted orderly transitions. In 1989, for instance, economic chaos forced the resignation of Radical president Raúl Alfonsín, and newly elected Carlos Menem took office early. Radical president Fernando de la Rúa’s late 2001 collapse led to five caretakers within two weeks.
Likewise, in early 2003, caretaker president Eduardo Duhalde stage-managed the elections so that his chosen successor, Néstor Kirchner, would not have to face former president Menem (whose constitutional eligibility was questionable, in any event) in a Peronist primary; he also advanced the general-election date by more than six months. Menem and Kirchner were the first-round leaders, but when Menem withdrew because unfavorable polls made his defeat look inevitable (though he claimed otherwise), the runoff never took place. The next presidential elections are to take place in October 2011.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition