The history of Argentina has been colourful with the first Europeans settling in 1502, followed by the Spanish in 1536. The Spanish slowly took over most of the country subsequently known as Argentina but between 1810 and 1818 faced a war of independence. The war, although it dragged on in isolated pockets for a while, led to the Declaration of Independence on 9th July 1816.
There was then a period which saw a succession of governments with the occasional coup. Over the years, the wealthy got wealthier and the poor were driven from the rural areas into urban areas where they continued to face hardship.
In 1946 a Colonel, Juan Domingo Perón, conducted a bloodless coup and introduced a series of social and economic changes supporting the poor. However, some of these changes, particularly on the economic front, were disastrous for the country and Perón was ousted in a coup, only to return to power again in 1973.
Perón died in 1974 and after a period of turmoil a military junta came in to power in 1976, introducing the ‘Process of National Reorganisation’. In what was then known as the ‘Dirty War’ around 30,000 people were killed.
In 1981 the military decided to invade the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). It was their biggest failure and led to a discredited regime which eventually agreed to re-introduce political parties. On 30th October 1983 the Argentineans voted in free elections and elected Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín of the Radical Civic Union (UCR).
Between 1983 and 1989 the Radical Civic Union dominated the elections, winning in 1985 and 1987 with 130 and 117 seats respectively of the 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
In 1989 the Justicialist Party (PJ), a Peronist party, won with 124 of the 254 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Their presidential candidate Carlos Saúl Menem won with 47.5% of the vote. He won again in 1995 with 44.94%, but lost in his third attempt in 1999.
Meanwhile the Justicialist Party won again in 1991 and 1993 as well as 1995. In 1997 the PJ won 119 seats but with 36.4% of the vote. The Alliance, an alliance between the Radical Civic Union and the Front for a Country in Solidarity (FREPASO) took 45.9% of the vote but only 110 seats. Nevertheless they formed a government with smaller provincial parties who held 29 seats.
In 1999, Fernando de la Rúa of the Alliance won the presidential election with 48.37% of the vote. In simultaneous legislative elections the Alliance won 63 of the 130 seats up for election in the 257 seat Chamber of Deputies. But in midterm elections in 2001 the Justicialist Party won 66 seats and took control of both houses of the National Congress.
In 2003 two Justicialist Party factions fought each other in the presidential elections, Néstor Carlos Kirchner of the Front For Victory (FPV) party and Carlos Saúl Menem standing under the Front for Loyalty banner. Menem withdrew after the first round leaving Kirchner to win.
In elections taking place at the same time the Justicialist Party consolidated its position, taking 129 of the 257 seats in the lower house.
In 2005 the voters were back at the polls to elect 127 of the 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 24 of the 72 Senate seats. The Front for Victory faction under Néstor Kirchner were the clear winners taking 50 seats with the Radical Civic Union in second place with just 10 seats in the lower house.
In 2007 Kirchner declined to stand for a second term and he was replaced by his wife, Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner, who took 45.29% of the vote under the FPV-JP banner. In the two houses of Congress the FPV-JP also tightened its grip, taking 78 seats and increasing their tally in the lower house to 153 of 257 seats. The Radical Civic Union came second again with 14 seats and a total of 30 seats in the lower house.
Again in 2009, 127 of the 257 seats were up in the Chamber of Deputies and 24 of the 72 Senate seats. The JP factions took 47 seats with 30.8% of the vote in the lower house and 8 of the 24 seats up for election in the Senate. The Civic and Social Agreement, an alliance including the UCR took 41 seats and 14 seats, which resulted in the JP factions losing their absolute majority.
The President is elected for a four year term with opportunity for one additional term.
The bicameral congress has a Chamber of Deputies or lower house with 257 Deputies elected for four year terms. Half of the Chamber of Deputies is renewed every two years. The Senate has 72 Senators with one third renewed every two years to complete a six year term.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Argentina at joint 95th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 36 (where 100 is least corrupt).