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Argentine Constitutional Assembly election, 1957

The Argentine Constitutional Assembly election of 1957 was held on 28 July. Voters chose delegates to the assembly, and with a turnout of 90.1%, it produced the following results:

Constitutional assembly

Nohlen, Dieter. Elections in the Americas. Oxford University Press, 2005.


Neither victors, nor vanquished were to emerge from the "Liberating Revolution" that violently deposed Argentina's populist President Juan Peron in September 1955, and despite the pressure against it, General Eduardo Lonardi's catchphrase became government policy in October: he negotiated personally with Peron's chief supporters, the 2.5 million-member CGT labor union, and formed the Civilian Advisory Council.

Facing conservative opposition to his moderate approach to "de-peronization," as well as terminal illness, Lonardi lost his battle with both; replaced in November, he died the following March. His successor, General Pedro Aramburu, jailed 9,000 CGT leaders within days (banning them from politics) and enacted restrictions such as the ban of the fugitive dictator's mere name. Instability and a coup attempt conributed to a rollback in this momentum, however, and in July, Aramburu announced elections for a constitutional assembly to be convened for the purpose of retoring the 1853 Argentine Constitution (which Peron had replaced in 1949).

The announcement was not without controversy, however. The centrist UCR, the dominant party following the Peronists' ban, was opposed to convening the assembly before the restoration of democracy (when the UCR would almost certainly be in power). One front runner, Arturo Frondizi, believed it to be Aramburu's attempt to forestall elections, and the more conservative Ricardo Balbin feared it could boost Argentina's myriad, smaller parties - potentially complicating the UCR's ability to govern.Potash, Robert. The Army and Politics in Argentina. Stanford University Press, 1996.

Aramburu's more reactionary colleagues in the military favored a far slower timetable towards elections, but were reluctant to challenge him. The UCR's November 1956 convention in Tucuman was marked by acrimony over relationships with the military and with peronists, and it resulted in the party's division. Balbin continued to lead the party's mainstream (as the UCR-P), while the less anti-peronist faction formed the UCRI - led by Oscar Alende and Balbin's 1951 running mate, Arturo Frondizi.

The two UCR factions competed not only with each other, but also with the many, smaller parties. El Litoral One of the most prominent, the Socialist Party of Argentina, suffered from its own internal divisions. Americo Ghioldi led those who supported retribution for the harrassment that had been inflicted on them during Peron's rule, while Alfredo Palacios and led those who opposed such action. The elections - the first since Peron's deposal - were narrowly "won" by blank votes: Voters cast about 2,116,000 of these, besting the UCR-P's total by 10,000 and resulting in one of the highest such incidences (25%) in Argentine electoral history.

Ultimately, the narrowly-divided convention in Santa Fe resulted in deadlock when the UCRI walked out over the imminent reinsertion of Peron's Constitutional Article 40 (which nationalized energy resources). His Article 14 - which included social guarantees - was approved, however, before the assembly was adjourned after two months, on November 14.

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