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The government of Argentina, functioning within the framework of a federal system, is a presidential representative democratic republic. The President of Argentina is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

For electoral procedures and results, see Elections in Argentina. For history and current situation of politics and political parties, see Politics of Argentina. For political divisions, see the main articlemarker as well as the list of provinces of Argentina.

Executive Branch

Th current composition of the Executive Branch includes only the chief of state and head of government President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, formally given power of the Administration and to follow through with the interests of the National Government. The President is also the Commander in Chief of the national armed forces.

In elections, the President and the Vice President are chosen through universal suffrage by the nation as a whole. Constitutional reforms in 1994 introduced a two-round system. In this system, if the President-Vice President ticket wins either 45% of the total vote or 40% of the vote with at least 10% more than the second-place candidate, they are declared the winners. If this is not the case, the two tickets who received the most votes will face a second round whose victor will be decided by a simple majority. This mechanism was not necessary in the 1995 election, when it could have first come into use, but in the 2003 Presidential election it led to the selection of Néstor Kirchner in the second round.

The cabinet is appointed by the President but is not technically part of the Executive. The Vice-President, Julio Cobos, belongs to the Legislative Branch, since he is also the president of the Senate.

In office since December 2007, President Cristina Kirchner's cabinet, as of October 1, 2009, consists of:


Legislative Branch

The Argentine National Legislature.
The Legislative Branch is a moNational Congressmarker or Congreso Nacional, which consists of the Senate (72 seats), presided by the Vice-President, and the Chamber of Deputies (257 seats), currently presided by Eduardo Fellner of Jujuy Province. Senators stay in office for six years, and deputies, for four.

This branch also includes the Vice-President (since he is the president of the Senate Chamber), the General Auditing Office of the Nation and the Ombudsman.

The residents of each of the provinces and of the City of Buenos Aires elect deputies and senators directly. Deputies are representatives of the whole people of the Nation, while senators represent their districts. Each district elects a number of deputies roughly proportional to their population by proportional representation, and three senators: two for the majority, and one for the first minority.

Every two years, each one of the twenty-four electoral districts (the twenty-three provinces and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires) elects one half of their own deputies, and two years later, the remaining deputies are elected. Obviously, districts with an odd number of deputies elect one more or one less in each election. As for senators, the twenty-four districts are divided into three groups with eight districts each. Every two years all eight districts of one group elect all of their three senators, giving two to the party that obtains most votes, and one to the second. Two years later, another group does the same, and so on. Members of both chambers are allowed indefinite re-elections.

Following the June 28, 2009 mid-term elections, half the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and one third of the seats in the Senate were subjected to the ballot box. The Front for Victory (FPV) and other allies of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner, Argentina's progressive ruling couple, secured 113 of 257 seats in the lower house, losing 24 seats and their absolute majority (the fractious Justicialist Party, to which the FPV belongs, continued its control of the lower house, in effect since 1989); a further 17 seats went to anti-Kirchner Justicialists (mostly conservatives), who gained 1. The social democratic Radical Civic Union, Argentina's oldest party, joined the Civic Coalition, which secured 77 seats, gaining 16. The conservative Republican Proposal secured 26 seats, gaining 12. A further 24 seats went to smaller parties, mostly provincially-oriented.

Something similar took place in the Senate, where the Kirchners' Front for Victory secured 36 of 72 seats (losing 4), the Civic Coalition secured 23 (gaining 7), and the Justicialist Party wing opposed to the Kirchners maintained their presence of 9 seats. Smaller, provincial parties were left with 4 seats between them (losing 3); Justicialists (of one wing or another) manitained the control over the Senate they've enjoyed since 1983.

Riding a wave of approval during a dramatic economic recovery from a 2001-02 crisis, the Kirchners' FPV had prevailed enjoyed increasingly large majorities in Congress, reaching their peask following the 2007 general elections (with 153 Congressmen and 44 Senators, at the time). They could by no means count on a legislative blank check, however: on July 16, 2008, a presidentially-sponsored bill to increase Argentina's export taxes on the basis of a sliding scale met with deadlock, ultimately defeated by the tie-breaking "no" vote of Vice President Julio Cobos himself, and the controversy cost the FPV 16 Congressmen and 4 Senators by way of defections.

The FPV's party list lost in the four most important electoral districts (home to 60% of Argentines), and only in the Province of Buenos Airesmarker by a narrow difference. The FPV obtained only a very narrow victory, as percentage of the national vote.. This will be reflected in strengthened opposition alliances, notably the center-right Unión Pro, the center-left Civic Coalition and the left-wing Proyecto Sur, when elected candidates in both chambers take office on December 11, 2009.

Judiciary Branch

Main building of the Argentine Supreme Court.
The Judiciary Branch is composed of federal judges and others with different jurisdictions, and a Supreme Court with nine members (one President, one Vice-President and seven Ministers), appointed by the President with approval of the Senate, who may be deposed by Congress. As of August 2006 there are two vacancies, which then President Kirchner stated she did not intend to fill.

Provincial and municipal governments

Argentina is divided into 23 districts called provinces and 1 federal district, which hosts the national capital, the Autonomous City of Buenos Airesmarker (which is geographically surrounded by the province of Buenos Airesmarker and historically, though not administratively, part of it). Each of the provinces has its own constitution, laws, authorities, form of government, etc., though these must first and foremost comply with the national constitution and laws.

Map of Argentina, with provincial divisions.
The government of each province has three branches (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary). The Executive is led by a governor. The Legislative Branch may be organized as a unicameral or a bicameral system (that is, either one or two chambers or houses).

In all provinces except Buenos Airesmarker, the provinces are divided into districts called department (departamentos). Departaments are merely administrative divisions; they do not have government structures or authorities of their own. They are in turn divided into municipalities (cities, towns and villages). Each province has its own naming conventions and government systems for different kinds of municipalities. For example, Córdoba Province has municipios (cities) and comunas (towns); Santa Fe Province further distinguishes between first- and second-category municipios; Chaco refers to all populated centers as municipios in three categories.

The province of Buenos Aires has a different system. Its territory is divided into 134 districts called partidos, which are technically municipalities, even though they usually contain several cities and towns.

Regardless of the province, each department/partido has a head town (cabecera), often though not necessarily the largest urban center, and in some provinces often named the same as their parent district.

Municipalities are ruled by mayors, commonly called intendentes in the case of cities and towns (the larger categories). A city has a legislative body called the Deliberative Council (Concejo Deliberante). The smaller towns have simpler systems, often ruled by commissions presided by a Communal President (presidente communal) or a similarly named authority.

The Federal Capital, Buenos Aires, was declared an autonomous city in the 1994 constitutional reform. Its mayor, formerly chosen by the President of the Republic, is now elected by the people, and receives the title of Chief of Government (Jefe de Gobierno). Other than that, Buenos Aires, like the provinces, has its own Legislative Branch (a unicameral Legislature) and sends deputies and senators as representatives to the National Congress.


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