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Argentine general election, September 1973


The second Argentine general election of 1973 was held on 23 September. Turnout was 85.5%, and it produced the following results:

Background

The jubilation that followed the May 25, 1973, return to democracy (following seven years of military rule) was soon clouded by political friction and unforeseen events. President Hector Campora, who took his Oath of Office in the presence of Cuban leader Osvaldo Dorticos and Chilean leader Salvador Allende - both consular figures in Latin American Marxism - promptly declared a near-blanket amnesty for the several hundred political prisoners held by Alejandro Lanusse's regime . Campora also made controversial appointments, such as [[w:es:Rodolfo Puiggros|Rodolfo Puiggros]] as President of the University of Buenos Aires, Esteban Righi as Minister of the Interior (overseeing law enforcement) and [[w:es:Julio Troxler|Julio Troxler]] as Assistant Police Chief of Buenos Aires - all former defense attorneys linked to the violently left-wing Montoneros. A number of left-wing lawyers were also elected to prominent elected posts across the nation, notably [[w:es:Oscar Bidegain|Oscar Bidegain]] (Governor of Buenos Aires Province), Ricardo Obregon Cano (Governor of Cordoba Province) and [[w:es:Alberto Martinez Baca|Alberto Martinez Baca]] (Governor of Mendoza Province), among others. This new-found prominence among the Argentine left encouraged an increasingly violent reaction among the far right. Among Campora's appointees was one insisted on by his patron, Juan Peron: Jose Lopez Rega, a former policeman with an interest in the occult close to the Peron household since 1965.Page, Joseph. Peron: A biography. Random House, 1983.

Lopez Rega, formally Minister of Social Policy, quickly parlayed his portfolio control over nearly 30 percent of the national budget into a well-funded paramilitary force, the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (Triple A). Threatened by the Montoneros' inroads into student and neighborhood organizations, local governments and the Peronist Youth, they began targeting many of Campora's policy makers, some of which began resigning under pressure from Peron, himself. President Campora agreed to have Peronist militants in charge of most security arrangements for Peron's much-anticipated June 20, 1973, return from exile; as the Alitalia flight carrying the leader's retinue descended over Ministro Pistarini International Airport at Ezeiza, however, a scuffle erupted between left and right-wing minders over control of the stage from which Peron would address the nation, leading to a rash of pitched battles resulting in perhaps over a hundred deaths and Peron's public, July 13 suggestion that Campora resign.

The calculating Lopez Rega seized on this to prevail on Vice President Vicente Solano Lima and Senate President Alejandro Diaz Bialet to resign, as well, leaving a constitutional vacuum referred to as an "acephaly" - the absence of a head of state. This move created both the need for new elections and the chance to remove a number of Campora's leftist advisers; it also left the nation's highest office to the President of the Argentine Chamber of Deputies (lower house), Raul Lastiri, who was, despite being a year older than Lopez Rega, the powerful Social Policy Minister's son-in-law. The cautious Lastiri continued Campora's populist socio-economic policies; inheriting a growing threat from an increasingly armed Peronist Youth and the newly-active Trotskyite People's Revolutionary Army (ERP), which, in only three months, attacked a military installation and murdered a number of military figures, he replaced Interior Minister Righi and called elections for September 23.

Increasing violence led many in Argentina, including much of the armed forces to conclude that only Peron commanded enough respect to persuade extremists away from hostilities. Gathering in Buenos Aires' renowned Teatro Colon, the Justicialist Party struggled to nominate Peron's running mate. The choice of the leader's own wife, Isabel, intrigued the conventionshe was, after all, the only prominent Peronist (aside from Peron himself) not publicly associated with any one faction within the fractious movement. Opposed to Lopez Rega's suggestion at first, the aging Peron set aside strong personal doubts as to his wife's readiness for office and agreed. The two sailed into office in a record landslide on the same FREJULI umbrella ticket on which Campora was elected only six months earlier.Martinez, Tomas Eloy. La novela de Peron. Random House, 1985.

Candidates

Justicialist Liberation Front (populist): Juan Peron of Buenos Aires Province

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

Popular Federalist Alliance (conservative): Francisco Manrique of Mendoza Province

Socialist Workers' Party: Juan Carlos Coral

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