Ancient history


Peronism was the political regime built by Juan Domingo Perón, as Argentine president on two occasions:between 1946-55 and between 1973-74.

The Peronism was the period in Argentine history when Juan Domingo Perón was the president of the country. Perón was president of the country between 1946 and 1955 and from 1973 to 1974. In this text, the approach focus will be on the first government that began in 1946 and ended in 1955. Juan Domingo Perón is considered by many as the symbol of populism in Argentina and is compared by many to Getúlio Vargas.

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Historical context

Perón's political rise took place in the 1940s and is related to the June 4, 1943 coup that was responsible for the rise of the Group of United Officers , known as GOU to the power of Argentina. The GOU was formed by a group of ultra-conservative military personnel, extremely Catholic and many of whom sympathized with Nazi-fascism.

The GOU government, due to its conservative ideology, adopted a platform that sought to combat any kind of political unrest, mainly organized by communist and trade union groups. It was during the GOU government that Juan Domingo Perón assumed positions in Argentine politics.

Perón was a military man who during the GOU government assumed the Secretariat of Labor and Provision, in December 1943, and it was in the management of this secretariat that Perón became famous and approached workers and unionists. Perón kept in constant contact with the union centrals and promoted a series of benefits to workers, such as the creation of paid vacations.

These actions made Perón popular among the working classes. With the growth of his influence, he managed to ascend to the rank of Vice President from the country. In this position, Perón began to build his political project aiming to achieve the presidency of Argentina. Realizing this, Argentina's elites broke with Perón (the elites feared the Peronist mass politics).

Perón's project was based on a discourse aimed at workers, which was anti-capitalist and defended the promotion of social justice. The breakup of Argentine elites with Perón led to a conspiracy that resulted in the arrest de Perón on October 8, 1945. Perón was taken to a prison on Martín García Island, located at the mouth of the La Plata.

Perón's arrest immediately mobilized the working classes through the unions of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT). The union centrals called for a series of public demonstrations in Buenos Aires and managed to gather a huge crowd in support of Perón. The result of the demonstrations was the release of Perón on October 17th.

Perón saiu from prison strengthened , he addressed a crowd at the Casa Rosada, the country's seat of power, and organized to run for president. In the electoral campaign he had the support of the Army and the Church and won the dispute with 300 thousand votes more than his opponent, José Tamborini.

Peronist government

Perón's first term lasted six years, running from 1946 to 1952. In 1951, a new election was held that re-elected Perón for another six years, but a military coup interrupted the second term.

The Peronist government between 1946 and 1955 was marked by the dismantling of democratic institutions from Argentina. In addition, Perón's government is characterized by historians as populist and authoritative .

In the economy, Perón found a reasonably favorable way out, because the country had taken advantage of the Second World War to fill the country's foreign exchange reserves. The country's agriculture was in crisis, so Perón encouraged the country's industrial development. He also implemented an income distribution policy that was responsible for the increase in consumption.

During this period, Argentines, taking advantage of the euphoria of income distribution, quickly consumed goods such as refrigerators and radios. This increase in consumption, however, had a negative impact, as it increased the country's inflation, which resulted in an increase in the cost of living. Perón's economic stance was also nationalistic, since he nationalized railroads, for example.

In foreign policy, the Perón government implemented a kind of third way, since it did not subject its country to American interests, nor to Soviet interests. He chose to remain with a policy external neutral, a risky decision in times of Cold War.

In labor issues, he expanded his contact with trade union centrals and also the state's control over these institutions. From 1947 onwards, this mediation was carried out by his wife, Evita Perón . Perón's wife played a crucial role in consolidating the image of the Peronist state as a benefactor state.

In politics, Perón has already shown his authoritarianism, as he tried to control his opponents, but in a timid way. Perón had goals to remake the country's political institutions in order to make democracy lose importance in the country. The idea was to make the interests of the Executive, that is, of Perón, stand out in relation to any democratic institution in the country.

Perón had the ability to reconcile different interests, since that his negotiating power was based on the idea of ​​adapting his speech to the different groups that negotiated with the government. Argentine institutions were still used by Perón to reproduce the government's official ideology. As part of his project, he created the Peronist Party .

Perón's second term was secured when he won the 1951 presidential election, defeating his opponent Ricardo Balbín with 64% of the vote. This expressive result shows the strength of Perón, since that year he had survived an attempted military coup. In his second government, Perón expanded his link with authoritarianism.

Perón's authoritarianism was accompanied by the radicalization of the opposition, symbolized by a bomb attack that the president suffered in April 1953. After that, Perón intensified the persecution of his opponents. The decay of the Peronist government happened when he broke with the Catholic Church.

The weakening of Perón after breaking with the Catholic Church brought other opponents – such as the Navy – to conspire against the president. The result was a first coup attempt, on June 16, 1955. This attempt failed, however, on September 16 of the same year, a military uprising organized in Córdoba overthrew the president who then went into exile. A week later, General Lombardi declared himself president of Argentina.

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Peronism and fascism

Many associate Peronism, as a political project, with fascism, the political regime that took power in Italy in 1922. There were some similarities and approximations between Peronism and fascism, but, in the view of historians, to say that Peronism was a fascist government is a great exaggeration . The differences between the two regimes are greater than the similarities.

Between approximations can be highlighted the speech incisive of both against communism , the actions created by both governments to propagate the regime's ideology and also the actions of the two governments to mediate employer relations. It is important to mention that Perón himself had a certain admiration for the fascist regime.

Peronism and Getulism

The Peronist regime is also closely associated with the Vargas regime. This comparison had repercussions in Brazil, especially during the second Vargas government, when the Brazilian president was accused of trying to get closer to Perón to establish a union republic in Brazil. However, these accusations were false, as there were never any actions to bring Vargas closer to Perón.

In any case, both governments are seen as populist and there are indeed many similarities between Peronism and Varguism, but it is important to point out that both political projects were the result of the particular scenarios of each country , therefore, there is no relationship between the two countries that explains the rise of Vargas and Perón.

*Image credits:FGV/CPDOC

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