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Argentine general election, 1958

The Argentine general election of 1958 was held on 23 February. Voters chose both the President and their legislators and with a turnout of 90.9% (the highest in Argentine electoral history), it produced the following results:



Argentine Chamber of Deputies

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


The year 1955 cast a long shadow over these elections. President Juan Peron was violently overthrown in September of that year and the succeeding junta banned the Peronist Party and even the possession of Peronist mementoes or the very mention of the former leader or of the late Eva Peron. The junta did, however, convene a Civilian Advisory Board which, to the dismay of many conservatives, recommended against draconian measures or the reversal of most of Peron's reforms. They also called for a referendum ratifying the 1853 Constitution (which Peron had replaced in 1949), while retaining Peron's Article 14, a section devoted to social reforms; the junta's leader, Gen. Pedro Aramburu, backed the panel's findings. An attempted countercoup against the junta, defeated on June 10, led to the execution of 27 plotters (including numerous civilians) and derailed Aramburu's hopes for the creation of a viable political alternative to the populist leader.

Seizing the opportunity, the Radical Civic Union (UCR)'s 1951 vice-presidential nominee, Arturo Frondizi secretly secured an agreement with the exiled Peron, by which the banned Peronists would be given a voice in exchange for their support. The pact, a mere rumor at the time, created a rift within the UCR at their party convention in November 1956, forcing Frondizi and his supporters to run on a splinter ("Intransigent") ticket and leaving more anti-Peronist UCR voters with Ricardo Balbin, the party's 1951 standard bearer. The two wings presented different candidates for the constituent assembly election called for August 30, 1957, with no clear winner, though the deadlocked assembly did ratify the Advisory Board's proposed constitutional changes.

Unmentionable by law, Peron became the central issue of the 1958 campaign. Argentina was abuzz with staccato sounds of El-que-te-dije ("Whatchamacall'im") and Balbin, who accepted Pres. Aramburu's endorsement, was dealt a "February surprise" when, four days before the election, the exiled leader publicly endorsed Frondizi. Blank votes became Frondizi votes, making him the winner of the 1958 elections in Argentina.

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Intransigent Radical Civic Union (progressive): Arturo Frondizi of Corrientes Province

Popular Radical Civic Union (centrist): Ricardo Balbin of Buenos Aires Province

Christian Democratic Party (progressive): Lucas Ayarragaray

Socialist Party: Alfredo Palacios of the city of Buenos Aires

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