Government

Argentina is a democratic republic, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as established by the constitution of 1853. Argentina is a federal republic, divided into 23 provinces, and the Federal District of Buenos Aires. Its present constitution was adopted in 1994 and is patterned after that of the United States.

The executive branch is the strongest among the three branches, and includes a president and vice president, chosen by popular vote. Each serves a four-year term and may be reelected to a second term, though not more. Both must be Argentine by birth and Roman Catholics. The executive branch also includes a cabinet whose ministers are appointed by the president.

The National Congress consists of the 72-member Senate and the 257-member Chamber of Deputies. There are three senators from each province, and three each from the Buenos Aires federal district. Each senator is elected to a six-year term by the legislative body in the region the senator represents. (One-third of the members are elected every two years.) The number of deputies is based on population. Deputies serve four-year terms and are elected directly by the people. (One-half of the members are elected every two years.)

Argentinas largest political parties are the Justicialist Party (PJ), founded in 1945 and representing labor interests, and the Radical Civic Union (UCR), founded in 1891 and representing middle-class voters. Citizens over 18 years of age are required to vote, and may be imprisoned for failing to do so.

There are both federal and provincial courts. The federal Supreme Court at Buenos Aires has nine judges, appointed by the president, and has the right to declare as unconstitutional certain acts of the legislature. There are five appellate courts, with judges appointed by the president, and lower courts in each province and territory, with court judges appointed by provincial governors.

The provinces, federal district, and national territory elect their own governors and legislators, and have their individual constitutions. An elected mayor and city council administer the Buenos Aires Federal District. Since the late 20th century, the federal government has handed out greater responsibilities to local governments by certain reforms.

Armed forces. There are three main branches of armed forces in Argentina, namely the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy, and other subsidiary branches including the Coast Guard and the National Gendarmerie (border police). Military service is voluntary in nature.