1916 Argentine general election

The Argentine general election of 1916 was held on 2 April. Voters elected the President, legislators, and local officials. The first secret-ballot presidential elections in the nation's history, they were mandatory and had a turnout of 62.7%.

1916 Argentine general election

2 April 1916

300 members of the Electoral College
151 votes needed to win
Nominee Hipólito Yrigoyen Ángel Rojas Lisandro de la Torre
Party Radical Civic Union Conservative Party Democratic Progressive Party
Home state Buenos Aires City San Juan Santa Fe
Running mate Pelagio Luna Juan Eugenio Serú Alejandro Carbó
Electoral vote 152 104 20
States carried 6 + CF 6 2
Popular vote 336.980 155.187 63,098
Percentage 46.83% 21.57% 8.77

Most voted party by province.

President before election

Victorino de la Plaza
National Autonomist Party

Elected President

Hipólito Yrigoyen
Radical Civic Union


President Roque Sáenz Peña kept his word to the exiled leader of the Radical Civic Union (UCR), Hipólito Yrigoyen, who in turn abandoned his party twenty-year-old boycott of elections. The president overcame nearly two years of conservative opposition in Congress (and pressure from his own social class) to pass in 1912 what was later known as the Sáenz Peña Law, which mandated universal male suffrage and the secret ballot. His health deteriorating quickly, the President lived to see the fruition of his reforms: the 1914 mid-term elections, which gave the UCR 19 out of the 60 Lower House seats in play (the ruling party obtained 10) and the governorship of Santa Fe Province (then the second-most important). Another beneficiary of the Sáenz Peña Law was the Socialist Party, led by Congressman Juan B. Justo. The formerly dominant PAN remained divided between the Conservative Party, led by the Governor of Buenos Aires Province, Marcelino Ugarte, and the Democratic Progressive Party, led by a reformist publisher and Congressman, Lisandro de la Torre.[1]

Strengthened by both popular appeal and the fractiousness of its opposition, the UCR experienced dissent within from its Santa Fe Province chapter, whose endorsement Yrigoyen was unable to obtain. The Socialists lost one of its best-known lawmakers, Alfredo Palacios, who would run on a splinter Socialist ticket for several future elections. The Conservative Party's presumptive nominee, Governor Ugarte, stepped aside in favor of a lesser-known party figure, San Juan Province Governor Ángel Rojas, in a bid to attract votes from the hinterland and from moderates. President Victorino de la Plaza, refused to interfere on behalf of the Conservatives (despite an assassination attempt that would have provided him with ample pretext). Refusing to back them, he fielded his own Provincial Party, which was limited mainly to his native Santiago del Estero Province. Faced with only token opposition from the remnants of the once-paramount PAN, Yrigoyen pledged to donate his salary to charity, if elected, and encouraged the rich country's impoverished majority to know him as "the father of the poor." [2]

Election day, April 2, handed an unexpectedly large victory to Yrigoyen, who still had to await the results from the electoral college (which met in July). The dissident, Santa Fe UCR had drained a significant number of electors from the official ticket, and Yrigoyen obtained but 133 of the body's 300 electors. Numerous Democratic Progressives, moreover, became faithless electors - pledging their support to the Conservative Party. Santa Fe's UCR, however, resorted to the same tactic, allowing Yrigoyen its 19 electors and making the patient activist for voter rights the first, democratically elected President of Argentina.[3]



Party/Electoral Alliance Votes %
Radical Civic Union (UCR) 336,980 46.8%
Conservative Party 96,103 13.4%
Democratic Progressive Party 63,098 8.8%
Socialist Party 52,215 7.3%
Autonomist Party of Corrientes 30,968 4.3%
Dissident UCR
(Santa Fe Province)
28,116 3.9%
Others 112,089 15.5%
Positive votes 719,569 96.5%
blank or nullified votes 26,256 3.5%
Total votes 745,825 100.0%

Electoral Vote

Presidential Candidates Party Electoral Votes
Hipólito Yrigoyen Radical Civic Union 152
Ángel Dolores Rojas Conservative Party 104
Lisandro de la Torre Democratic Progressive Party 20
Juan B. Justo Socialist Party 14
Alejandro Carbó Democratic Progressive Party 8
Total voters 298
Did not vote 2
Total 300
Vice Presidential Candidates Party Electoral Votes
Pelagio Luna Radical Civic Union 152
Juan Eugenio Serú Conservative Party 103
Alejandro Carbó Democratic Progressive Party 20
Nicolás Repetto Socialist Party 14
Carlos Ibarguren Democratic Progressive Party 8
Julio Argentino Pascual Roca Conservative Party 1
Total voters 298
Did not vote 2
Total 300

Electoral Vote by Province

Province President Vice President
YrigoyenRojasde la TorreJustoCarbóLunaSerúCarbóRepettoIbargurenRoca
Buenos Aires City30143014
Buenos Aires20402040
Entre Ríos157157
La Rioja2626
San Juan3737
San Luis3737
Santa Fe198198
Santiago del Estero104104

Argentine Chamber of Deputies

Party/Electoral Alliance Seats Change % of votes
UCR 44 16 46.8%
Conservative 28 3 13.4%
Socialist 9 = 7.3%
Democratic Progressive 8 8 8.8%
Liberal and Autonomist
6 3 3.0%
Dissident UCR
(Santa Fe)
4 4 3.9%
Provincial Union
4 2 0.7%
Conservative Coalition
(Tucumán Province)
4 = ~
Democratic Union
(Santiago del Estero)
3 2 1.9%
Others 7 14.2%
Invalid votes 3a 3.5%
Total 120 100.0%


Notes: a) seats left vacant.


  1. Todo Argentina: Roque Sáenz Peña (in Spanish)
  2. Nouzeilles, Gabriella and Motaldo, Graciela. The Argentina Reader. Duke University Press, 2002.
  3. Todo Argentina: 1916 (in Spanish)
  4. Nohlen, Dieter. Elections in the Americas. Oxford University Press, 2005.
  5. Diario de sesiones de la Cámara de Senadores - Año 1916 - Tomo I. Buenos Aires: Talleres Gráficos de L. J. Rosso y Cía. 1916. pp. 88–110.
  6. Duhalde, Eduardo Luis (2007). Acción Parlamentaria de John William Cooke. Buenos Aires: Colihue. p. 232. ISBN 978-950-563-460-6.
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