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Keywords:

  • Argentina;
  • democracy;
  • elections;
  • political parties;
  • crisis

This article provides an analysis of the political and socioeconomic context of the April 2003 presidential elections, focusing particularly on the campaign platforms of candidates, the outcome of the first round and the election's consequences for the party system. The election's results were far reaching in many respects. Argentina's longstanding two-party system came to an end with the virtual vanishing of the Radical party (UCR) at the national level. An evolved political culture resulted in new, more rigorous criteria for the selection of candidates. Finally, new political parties (MNR and ARI) emerged that could conceivably improve the quality of democratic governance in the future. In short, the 2001–2002 crisis fostered a significant degree of political renewal. Contrary to some predictions, however, the societal rejection of political parties did not result in either the complete demolition of the party system or the wholesale renovation of the political class. In particular, the Peronist party showcased its staying power and uncanny ability to adapt to new political environments.