1989 Argentine general election

The Argentine general election of 1989 was held on 14 May 1989. Voters chose both the President and their legislators and with a turnout of 85.3%, Carlos Menem won the presidency, and the Justicialist Party won the control of both houses of Congress. This is the last presidential election the president was elected by the electoral college.

1989 Argentine general election

May 14, 1989

600 members of the electoral college
301 votes needed to win
Nominee Carlos Saúl Menem Eduardo Angeloz Álvaro Alsogaray
Party Justicialist Party Radical Civic Union UCeDé
Alliance Justicialist Front of Popular Unity UCR + CFI Alliance of Centre
Home state La Rioja Córdoba Santa Fe
Running mate Eduardo Duhalde Juan Manuel Casella Alberto Natale
Electoral vote 312 234 28
States carried 20 3 + CABA 0
Popular vote 7,954,191 6,213,217 1,093,398
Percentage 47.49% 37.03% 6.53%

President before election

Raúl Alfonsín
Radical Civic Union

Elected President

Carlos Menem
Justicialist Party


Inheriting a difficult legacy from his military predecessors, President Raúl Alfonsín's tenure had been practically defined by the foreign debt Argentina's last dictatorship left behind. Signs of unraveling in Alfonsín's 1985 Austral Plan for economic stabilization cost his centrist Radical Civic Union (UCR) its majorities in the Chamber of Deputies (lower house of Congress) and among the nation's 22 governorships in the September 1987 mid-term elections. Facing a restive armed forces opposed to trials against past human rights abuses and mounting inflation, the president brought elections forward five months, now scheduled for May 14, 1989. Both major parties held national conventions in May 1988. The UCR nominated Córdoba Governor Eduardo Angeloz, a safe, centrist choice and the most prominent UCR figure not closely tied to the unpopular President Alfonsín. In an upset, however, Carlos Menem, governor of the remote and thinly populated La Rioja Province, wrested the Justicialist Party nomination from the odds-on candidate, Buenos Aires Province Governor Antonio Cafiero, a policy maker close to the Justicialists' founder, the late Juan Perón. Cafiero's defeat resulted largely from CGT trade union opposition to his Peronist Renewal faction; Alfonsín's top political adviser, Interior Minister Enrique Nosiglia, in turn saw Menem's flamboyance as an opportunity for the struggling UCR.

The Justicialists (Peronists) took a sizable lead in polling early on, however, even as nearly half the voters remained undecided. Hoping to translate this into a UCR victory over the outspoken and eccentric Menem, President Alfonsín enacted an August 1988 "Springtime Plan" in a bid for lower inflation (then running at 27% monthly). The plan, criticized as a rehashed "Austral Plan" by the CGT, called for budget cuts and renewed wage freezes - policies they blamed for sliding living standards. Initially successful, a record drought late in the year buffeted critical export earnings and led to rolling blackouts, dissipating any gains Angeloz might have made from the "relief" of 6% monthly inflation.

A perennial third-party candidate, conservative economist Álvaro Alsogaray, made gains following the January 1989 assault by Trotskyite militants on the La Tablada Barracks, west of Buenos Aires. Twice minister of the economy and remembered for his belief that the economy must go through "winter," the unpopular Alsogaray ran on a free market platform, calling for mass privatizations and deep cuts in social spending (amid 30% poverty). Angeloz took the controversial decision of including social spending cuts in the UCR platform, as well, earning the right-wing Federal Party's endorsement; but alienating many others (particularly pensioners, among whom Alfonsín had won decisively in 1983). The largely civil campaign became increasingly a debate between the Justicialist nominee and the president, himself; Angeloz, the UCR nominee, remained "presidential" during the frequent exchanges of innuendo between Alfonsín and Menem.

Following a sharp drop in Central Bank reserves, the U.S. dollar gained around 40% against the austral in heavy trading on "black Tuesday," February 7. The sudden drop in the austral's value threatened the nation's tenuous financial stability and, later that month, the World Bank recalled a large tranche of a loan package agreed on in 1988, sending the austral into a tailspin: trading at 17 to the dollar in January, the dollar quoted at over 100 australes by election day, May 14. Inflation, which had been held to the 5-10% monthly range as late as February, rose to 78.5% in May, shattering records and leading to a landslide victory for the Peronists. Polling revealed that economic anxieties were paramount among two-thirds of voters and Menem won in 19 of 22 provinces, while losing in the traditionally anti-Peronist Federal District (Buenos Aires).

The nation's finances did not stabilize after the election, as hoped. The dollar doubled in value that next week, alone, and on May 29, riots broke out in the poorer outskirts of a number of cities. Having declared his intention to stay on until inaugural day, December 10, these events and spiraling financial chaos led Alfonsín to transfer power to President-elect Menem five months early, on July 8. When Menem accepted the presidential sash from Alfonsín, it marked the first time since 1916 that an incumbent government peacefully transferred power to the opposition.[1]

Candidates for presidency



Vice Presidential
Party or coalition Popular vote Electoral vote
Votes % Votes %
Carlos Menem Eduardo Duhalde 7,954,191 47.49 312 52.00
Eduardo Angeloz Juan Manuel Casella 6,202,163 37.03 234 39.00
Álvaro Alsogaray Alberto Natale 1,093,398 6.53 28 4.67
José Corzo Gómez Federico Houssay Partido Blanco de los Jubilados 315,600 1.88 7 1.17
Antonio Domingo Bussi Antonio Álvarez Republican Force 185,036 1.10 7 1.17
Parties without candidates 106,774 0.64 5 0.83
Neuquén People's Movement 35,466 0.21 4 0.67
Néstor Vicente Luis Zamora 409,250 2.44 1 0.17
Parties without candidates Alianza Bloquista 27,004 0.16 1 0.17
Acción Chaqueña 19,831 0.12 1 0.17
Guillermo Estévez Boero Alfredo Bravo 236,532 1.41
Jorge Altamira Gregorio Flores Workers' Party 45,763 0.28
Luis Alberto Ammann Lía Méndez 42,316 0.25
Party without candidates Cruzada Renovadora 11,236 0.07
Eduardo Angeloz María Cristina Guzmán Confederación Federalista Independiente 11,054 0.07
Parties without candidates Movimiento Unidad Renovadora 7,661 0.05
Azul, Lealtad, Restauración 7,287 0.04
Angel Bustelo Eduardo Hernández Acuerdo Popular 6,097 0.04
Parties without candidates Partido de La Independencia 4,083 0.02
Socialist Party 3,600 0.02
Partido del Trabajo y del Pueblo 2,770 0.02
Partido Socialista Obrero para la Liberación 2,715 0.02
Partido Demócrata 2,487 0.01
Partido de los Jubilados 2,340 0.01
  • Demócrata Liberal
  • Movimiento Popular Provincial
2,327 0.01
Partido de la Liberación 1,851 0.01
Movimiento Democrático Popular Antiimperialista 1,345 0.01
Frente Renovador 1,281 0.01
Tradición y Coherencia 1,181 0.01
Justicia Social 1,147 0.01
Frente Unión Autonomista 973 0.01
Unión Provincial 966 0.01
Acción Provinciana 838 0.01
Defensa Provincial - Bandera Blanca 651 0.00
Integration and Development Movement 557 0.00
Fueguino People's Movement 472 0.00
Movimiento Nacionalista 245 0.00
Unificación Populista 243 0.00
Authentic Socialist Party 216 0.00
Partido Autentico Formoseño 181 0.00
Total 16,749,128 100
Positive votes 16,749,128 98.00
Blank votes 222,048 1.30
Invalid votes 116,049 0.68
Vote errors 4,395 0.02
Turnout 17,091,620 85.31 600 100
Abstentions 2,942,632 14.69 0 0.00
Registered voters 20,034,252 100 600 100
Source: Dirección Nacional Electoral - Recorriendo las Elecciones de 1983 a 2013


Party/electoral alliance Lower House
% of votes Senate
Justicialist Party
Christian Democratic
Popular Justicialist Front 124 44.7% 28
UCR 90 28.8% 12
Democratic Progressive
Centrist Alliance 14 9.6%
CFI 3 3.8%
Autonomist-Liberal Pact
(Corrientes Province)
3 0.8% 1
Intransigent Party 2 2.8%
Popular Movement
(Jujuy Province)
2 0.1% 1
People's Movement
(Neuquén Province)
2 0.2% 1
Republican Force
(Tucumán Province)
2 1.1% 1
United Left 1 3.5%
Socialist Unity Alliance 1 2.6%
Others 10 2.0% 2
Invalid votes 2.6%
Total 254 100.0% 46


Electoral system: Proportional representation by districts according to the D'Hondt method. Seats are divided among those lists of candidates from parties or electoral alliances that obtain at least 3% of the electoral census or working electoral of the district.


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