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Argentine Radicalism: 1957-1963

  • Peter G. Snow


The Peronist victories in the 1962 elections, the subsequent military coup, and the nationalistic platform of the President elected in 1963 have again focused attention on the Argentine political scene. Much has been written about these and other aspects of contemporary Argentine politics; however, one major factor that has been almost completely ignored is the split within Argentine Radicalism that produced two separate Radical Parties. This article attempts to point out some of the reasons for the formation of these parties and also to trace their evolution through July, 1963.

The 1957 split was not the first to occur within the Unión Cívica Radical (Radical Civic Union or UCR); in fact the party was born of the 1891 split of the Civic Union into Nationals and Radicals. Although the UCR had definite internal factions as early as 1897, the first real split in the party came in 1922, when many Radicals left to form the Anti-personalist UCR under the leadership of President Marcelo T. Alvear.



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1 del Mazo, Gabriel, El Radicalismo: notas sobre su historia y doctrina, 1922-1952 (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Gure, 1959), pp. 301302.

2 With the death of Alvear in 1942, the conservative members of the party reorganized and changed their name from Mayoritario to Unionista.

3 See Gondra, Manuel A., Declinación del radicalismo y política del futuro (Buenos Aires: Ediciones El Mirador, 1957), pp. 4951.

4 Ibid., p. 49.

5 By far the best discussion of the intransigent sector of the party and the MIR in particular is found in del Mazo, Gabriel, El Radicalismo: El Movimiento de Intransigencia y Renovación, 1945-1957 (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Gure, 1957).

6 del Mazo, , El Radicalismo: El Movimiento de Intransigencia y Renovación, p. 268.

7 Other UCR factions included the Movimiento de Intransigencia Popular, Movimiento Unificador de la UCR, Movimiento Pro Radicalismo Unido, and Cruzada Renovadora de la UCR.

8 del Mazo, , El Radicalismo: El Movimiento de Intransigencia y Renovación, p. 227.

9 Aramburu hinted that he would prefer to see the Sáenz Peña law amended constitutionally in order to provide for a system of proportional representation.

10 La Prensa, January 20, 1957, p. 3.

11 Ibid., January 31, 1957, p. 1; February 1, 1957, p. 5; and February 7, 1957, p. 3.

12 Ibid., January 28, 1957, p. 5.

13 Ibid., February 9, 1957, p. 3.

14 Ibid., February 13, 1957, p. 3. The next day the MIP, and MPRU agreed to join the organization. (Ibid., February 14, 1957, p. 3).

15 La Prensa, February 18, 1957, p. 4.

16 La Prensa, February 19, 1957, p. 4.

17 Henceforth called UCRI.

18 Henceforth called UCRP.

19 See Hispanic American Report, X:4 (April, 1957), p. 205.

20 Zalduendo, Eduardo, Geografía Electoral de la Argentina (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Ancora, 1958), pp. 3132. Not all of the blank votes were cast by Peronistas as is often assumed; the leaders of the anti-Peronist Azul y Blanco party instructed their members to cast blank votes.

21 They were members of the Partido Laborista, Unión Federal, and Partido Conservador de Buenos Aires.

22 Quoted in del Mazo, , El Radicalismo: notas sobre su historia y doctrina, 1922-1952, p. 284.

23 Frondizi, Arturo, Petróleo y política (Buenos Aires: Editorial Raigal, 1955), pp. 271277.

24 Ibid., p. iii.

25 Frondizi, Arturo, “Algunos aspectos del pensamiento económico Radical,” Definiciones Radicales (La Plata: Comité de la Provincia de Buenos Aires de la Unión Cívica Radical, 1955), p. 70.

26 Frondizi, , Petróleo y política, lxvii.

27 See Frondizi, Arturo, Argentina y América Latina (Buenos Aires: Presidencia de la Nación, 1958), pp. 1127.

28 Frondizi, , Petróleo y política, p. lxi.

29 See Frondizi, Arturo, El tratado de Río de Janeiro (Buenos Aires: Editorial Denbigh, 1950), especially pp. 2245.

30 About the closest Balbín came to identifying his ideological position during the campaign was a speech of February 15, 1958, when he defined his party as “the struggle against capitalist monopolies and all forms of privilege; agrarian reform; popular education; anti-imperialism; university reform; defense of the economic rights of workers; right of union organization; social security, justice and liberty in all their forms; and defense of national sovereignty.” (La Nación, February 16, 1958, p. 3).

31 See Hispanic American Report, XI:1 (January, 1958), p. 44.

32 La Nación, February 1, 1958, p. 6.

33 La Prensa, March 26, 1960, p. 5.

34 See Hispanic American Report, XII: 1 (lanuary, 1959), p. 49.

35 Matthews, Herbert L., “Argentina Moving Toward Democracy,” Foreign Policy Bulletin, XXXVIII: 10 (February 1, 1959), p. 78.

36 For a further discussion of Frondizi's early economic policies, see Kennedy, John J., “Accountable Government in Argentina,” Foreign Affairs, XXXVII: 3 (April, 1959), pp. 453462 ; and Whitaker, Arthur P., “Social and Economic Crisis in Argentina,” Current History, XL:236 (April, 1961), pp. 208213.

37 Potash, Robert A., “Argentina's Quest for Stability,” Current History, XLII:246 (February, 1962), p. 74.

38 Silvert, K. H., “Economics, Democracy, and Honesty: An Assessment of the Frondizi Regime,” American Universities Field Staff Reports, VII: 1 (April 10, 1960), p. 10.

39 Hispanic American Report, XII:3 (March, 1959), p. 166.

40 Hispanic American Report, XII:7 (July, 1959), p. 399; and XII:4 (April, 1959), p. 226.

41 It is quite difficult to determine the exact ideological position of the UCRP. For example, did its members oppose the administration's economic program asi a matter of ideological difference, or were they just opposed to anything proposed by their arch-enemy, Frondizi?

42 These figures coirie from La Nación, March 19, 1958, p. 1, and March 30, 1960, p. 1.

43 After the 1960 election, there were six members of the Chamber of Deputies who represented three conservative parties. These parties were allied in the Federación Nacional de Partidos del Centro (FNPC).

44 Hispanic American Report, XIII:9 (September, 1960), p. 641. The next month the National Committee removed three UCRI legislators from the party and suspended six others for their failure to vote for this bill.

45 Ibid., XIII:12 (December, I960), p. 919.

46 All of these were soon realized.

47 See DiTella, Torcuata S., “La situación política argentina: fin de la integración y comienzo de la coexistencia,” Cuadernos Americanos, CXXIII:5 (September-October, 1962), pp. 5259.

48 This overconfidence may have stemmed in part from the fact that the UCRI easily defeated Peronist candidates in the Santa Fe elections of December, 1961.

49 Comisión Nacional de Difusión del Plan de Desarrollo, La UCRI, Palanca del Desarrollo Nacional y la Justicia Social: 70 años de luchas políticas del pueblo. (Buenos Aires: Ediciones UCRI, 1961), p. 28.

50 Ibid., p. 33.

51 Horowitz, Irving L., “Storm over Argentina,” The Nation, CXCIV:13 (March 31, 1962), p. 282.

52 The first of these actions was within the constitutional powers of the President. The second was not, for the Congress is supposed to be the sole judge of the qualifications of its members.

53 Letter of October 22, 1962, to the author.

54 In November his supporters began rumors that Frondizi had given his blessings to Alende's candidacy. This was vigorously denied by members of the other UCRI factions who also had visited Frondizi.

55 See supra, pp. 512, 517.

56 La Nación (International Air Edition), January 28, 1963, p. 1.

57 Christian Democrat Party, Federal Union, Federal Party, and Popular Conservative Party.

58 The Christian Democrats withdrew after a dispute with the UCRI over economic policy.

59 Decree 5150/63.

60 The results of the official recount were not yet available at time of writing.

61 The approximate vote for the top three candidates was:

62 Five provinces postponed the selection of Senators.

Argentine Radicalism: 1957-1963

  • Peter G. Snow


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