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The 1994 reform to the Argentine Constitution was approved on 22 August, as a result of the Olivos Pact between the president of Argentinamarker Carlos Saúl Menem, and the former president and leader of the opposition Raúl Alfonsín.

Ratification

On August 22, after three months of deliberations in the cities of Paraná and Santa Fe (traditional seat of constitutional conventions), the reform of 43 articles was finally approved. The deliberations did not end without altercations; for instance, Monsignor Jaime de Nevares resigned to his seat claiming the convention to be "vitiated with absolute nullity".

Main points

Menem's main point of the reform was to allow a president to govern for two consecutive mandates. A similar modification was done in the 1949 Argentine Constitution Reform that allowed Juan Domingo Perón to stay in the presidential seat for two consecutive terms, but the reform was derogated with the 1957 reform.

Even though the reform changed the length of each term to 4 years instead of 6, what would invalidate Menem as a candidate for the following elections after 6 years of mandate, he not only obtained the faculty of presenting for the 1995 elections, but succeeded in being re-elected.

Among the most important points of the reform are:

  • The length of the presidential term was shortened from six to four years.
  • The reelection of the president and the vice-president was allowed (only two consecutive terms).
  • The requirement for the president to be a Roman Catholic was removed.
  • The terms of senators were also shortened, from nine to six years.
  • The electoral system, formerly an indirect vote (as in the United Statesmarker) became a direct election, with a ballotage system.
  • The capital, Buenos Airesmarker, was given the special status of Autonomous City (Ciudad Autónoma).


Other specific provisions

In order to provide an effective protection to individual rights, the 1994 amendment has introduced actions called: "amparo" (injunctions), "hábeas corpus" and "hábeas data". "Amparo" gives the possibility to any person to request that a judge declare the unconstitutionality of an act or ruling on which an action or omission of public authorities or private individuals is based that, in an actual or imminent manner, causes damage or restrains a right recognized by the Constitution, the law or an international treaty. This action requires that no other effective judicial mean be available. "Hábeas corpus" is an action that can be filled to protect the right of physical freedom when it is threatened, limited, modified or injured, or in case of illegitimate aggravation of conditions of detention. "Hábeas data" is an action that can be filled by any individual to take notice of any information referred to him, registered in public or private registers, and to request its suppression, rectification, confidentiality or updating.

Another innovation introduced by the 1994 amendment is that citizens can introduce bills before the House of Deputies that must be considered by Congress within the next twelve months. We must also mention the recognition of the right of every inhabitant to a healthy environment in article 41 that establishes that

From another point of view there are precise provisions referring to: protection of consumers rights, defense of competitions, control of natural or legal monopolies and of public services quality and efficiency.

References


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