Published 19th September, 2011
The Justicialist Party or PJ was founded in 1945 by Juan and Evita Perón and was formerly the Justicialist Nationalist Movement. It describes its ideology as Peronist, populism, nationalism and third positionism (i.e. anti communism and capitalism).
In 1946, when Perón came to power, he ordered mass nationalisation of public services and strategic industries. He also enacted social reforms which made him very popular with the working classes. However, he also introduced some censorship and repression which alienated him from the Catholic church.
In 1955 when Perón was overthrown all Peronist bodies were banned and when the bans were temporarily lifted in 1962 and 1965 military coups followed.
Whilst the party continued, Perón went into exile in Spain, but returned in 1973 and won the election. However, he died in 1974 and his wife, Maria Estela Martinez de Perón took over before she was overthrown in a military coup in 1976.
There then followed a period where a military junta was in control and political parties were only permitted once more in 1983. In the 1983, 1985 and 1987 elections the Justicialist Party came second to the Radical Civic Union. Following their failure to win in 1983 there was a degree of infighting in the party and what had been a broad church gelled into two main factions, the right wing ‘oficialistas’ (the official wing) and the ‘renovadores’ or renovators. In 1985 the left wing renovators put forward their own candidates under the title ‘Renovation Front’.
By 1989 the PF succeeded in getting back together and its presidential candidate, Carlos Menem elected with 44.7% of the vote. The party too had a breakthrough, taking 124 of the 254 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house. The new style party under Menem promoted the free market economy and started a privatisation programme.
In 1991 the PJ increased its tally of seats, taking 116 seats, they did well again in 1993 increasing the tally to 125 seats and in 1995 this went up to 137 seats. The party also took nine of the 14 provincial governorships up for election.
Menem was re-elected president in 1995 with 49.8% of the vote.
In 1997 the party took 36.4% of the vote against the Alliance which took 45.9%. The Alliance, along with a number of smaller regional parties took the majority in the Chamber of Deputies.
In 1999 the PJ decline continued when the opposition Alliance candidate, Fernando de la Rúa won the presidential election with 48.5% of the vote. The PJ also did badly in the legislative elections.
In 2001 the PJ were back in control, just. There had been a period of internal infighting during the opposition years and by 2003 there were three factions operating within the party. Two PJ candidates fought the first round of the 2003 election, Néstor Carlos Kirchner of the Front For Victory (FPV) party and Carlos Saúl Menem standing under the Front for Liberty banner. Menem withdrew after the first round leaving Kirchner to win.
The PJ also did well in the 2003 legislative elections, taking 129 seats
By 2005 the Front for Victory (FPV) faction under Néstor Kirchner were very much in control and secured the lower and upper house.
In 2007 Néstor Kirchner declined to stand and his wife Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner stood, taking 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.
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 and they lost overall control of both houses.
The Justicialist Party is a member of the Centrist Democrat International and The Christian Democrat Organization of America (ODCA).