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Argentine president Juan Perón and first lady Eva Perón
Juan Perón is the central symbol in the Justicialist Party.
Eva Perón claims the female vote in 1947

Peronism,[a] also known as justicialism,[b] is a labour[1] and left-leaning[2] Argentine political movement based on the ideas and legacy of Argentine ruler Juan Perón (1895–1974).[3] It has been an influential movement in 20th- and 21st-century Argentine politics.[3] Since 1946, Peronists have won 10 out of the 14 presidential elections in which they have been allowed to run.[4]

Ideologically populist,[3] Peronism is widely considered to be a variant of left-wing populism,[5] although some described it as a Latin American form of fascism instead.[6][7][8] Others have criticized this as one-dimensional for having negative connotations, as it also includes a form of national-populism and nationalist socialism.[7] Peronism was also described as socialist by some political scientists,[9] who classified it as nationalist socialism,[10] non-Marxist socialism,[11] and Christian socialism.[12] Other scholars evaluate Peronism as a paternalistic conservative ideology,[13] and with a mixture of militant laborism and traditional conservatism.[14] Supporters of Peronism see it as socially progressive.[15] The main Peronist party is the Justicialist Party.[4] The policies of Peronist presidents have differed greatly,[4] but has been described as "a vague blend of nationalism and labourism",[4] or populism.[3][16]

Perón became Argentina's labour secretary after participating in the 1943 military coup and was elected president of Argentina in 1946.[3][17] He introduced social programs that benefited the working class,[18] supported labor unions and called for additional involvement of the state in the economy.[3] In addition, he helped industrialists.[4] Perón was hugely popular and gained even more admiration through his wife Eva, who championed for the rights of migrant workers and was beloved by the people.[19] Eva was so beloved that, in 1949, Juan Perón formed the Female Peronist Party, a new wing within his own party under her leadership.[20] Due to rising inflation and other economic problems and political repression, the military overthrew Perón in 1955.[21] The Peronist party was banned[21] and it was not until 1973 that open elections were held again in which Perón was re-elected president.[3] Perón died the next year; his widow and vice president Isabel took over the presidency.[3]

Perón's death left an intense power vacuum and the military promptly overthrew Isabel in 1976.[3] Since the return to democracy in 1983 Peronist candidates have dominated the presidency. As of 2023, Peronists held the presidency for 28 years. Carlos Menem was elected in 1989 and served for two consecutive terms over ten years. Menem moved the party to centre-right. His main focus was the privatization of state run enterprises,[4] the adoption of free-market policies[3] and good international relations with the United States.[4] After the De La Rúa administration collapsed, two interim Peronist leaders took over: Adolfo Rodríguez Saá and later Eduardo Duhalde. After coming to power in the 2003 Argentine general election, Left-wing Peronist Néstor Kirchner restructured Peronist platform that "returned the Peronist Justice Party to its traditional center-left stance following a long detour to center-right neoliberalism under Carlos Menem".[22] Kirchner was served for only one term, while his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, served two (having been elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011), and from 2019 until 2023 was the vice president with Alberto Fernández as president.[3]


First emblem of the Peronist Party, 1946–1955

The pillars of the Peronist ideal, known as the "three flags", are social justice, economic independence, and political sovereignty. Peronism can be described as a third position ideology as it rejects both capitalism and communism. Peronism espouses corporatism and thus aims to mediate tensions between the classes of society, with the state responsible for negotiating compromise in conflicts between managers and workers.[23]

Peronism gained popularity in Argentina after the failure of its government to listen and recognize the needs of its middle class. As president of Argentina, Hipólito Yrigoyen did not listen to the workers' pleas for better wages and better working conditions after World War I. Yrigoyen was notorious for failing to oppose Argentina's oligarchy. According to Teresa Meade in A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present, Yrigoyen failed "to establish a middle-class-based political system from 1916 to 1930 – mainly because his Radical Civic Union had neither the will nor the means to effectively oppose the dominance of the oligarchy".[24] Many in power did not work to change the way things were. However, Juan Perón, at that time a military officer, used his experiences in Europe and his admiration for certain leaders like Mussolini to create a new political atmosphere that he felt would better the lives of citizens in Argentina.[25]

Unlike Yrigoyen, Perón "recognized that the industrial working class was not necessarily an impediment, and could be mobilized to serve as the basis for building a corporatist state that joined the interests of labor with those of at least a large section of the national bourgeoisie to promote a nationalist agenda".[24]

Perón was yet unknown to the general public in the 1930s, but he already had high respect in the Argentinian army; he served as a military attaché between 1938 and 1940, and quickly gained a prestigious political position following the 1943 Argentine coup d'état. He took over the Labor Department in October 1943 and started cementing his reputation as the ally of the Argentinian trade unions, describing himself as a "labor unionist" (sindicalista) in an interview with a Chilean journalist. In November 1943, the national labour department was replaced by a new department for labour and welfare, which gave Perón enormous influence over the economy. Perón presented himself as a Catholic labourist committed to the ideals of "harmony" and “distributive justice". First breakthrough in his political career came with the settlement with Unión Ferroviaria in December 1943, which was the largest railroad union in Argentina at the time. Perón "offered the union almost everything it had been seeking, until now in vain, during the past fifteen years", which gave him the reputation of the “Argentina's Number One Worker" amongst railroad unionists.[26]

In January 1944, General Pedro Pablo Ramírez fell from power following the reveal of secret negotiations between Nazi Germany and Argentinian junta. The junta was forced to break diplomatic relations with the Axis and purge its cabinet of pro-Axis members. Ramírez was replaced by moderate Edelmiro Julián Farrell, which prompted protests from nationalist circles - in Tucumán, flags on government buildings flew at half-mast in sign of protest. Perón further expanded his power, as he took over the ministry of war that Farrell commanded before becoming president. In March 1944, railroad workers organized a demonstration in support of Perón, and in June, he was able to take control over metalworkers' union Unión Obrera Metalúrgica. Perón's speech from 11 June introduced the concept of "nation in arms", where he called war an inevitable consequence of human condition. According to Perón, a nation could win a war only if it would "develop true . . . solidarity [and] create a strong sense of discipline and personal responsibility in the people." The speech was commonly cited by domestic and international opponents of Perón, who accused him of fascist sympathies. The junta suffered a massive decline in prestige in August 1944, as the liberation of Paris sparked massive pro-Allied demonstrations in Argentina, in which the protesters called for the resignation of the junta for its Nazi sympathies.[27]

Perón would sharply reconfigure his views and speeches in late 1944, as the nationalist junt was facing intense pressure to reform and hold elections. He declared that his ultimate goal is to introduce "true democracy" in Argentina, and began searching for allies amongst the middle and upper classes. However, as he was rejected by the Radical circles, Perón committed himself to developing his popularity amongst the working class. Historian David Rock remarked that "Perón again found himself forced back on the support of the unions alone and at this point openly embraced democratic socialism."[28] He praised the victory of the Labour Party in the 1945 United Kingdom general election, portraying it as proof of "humanity marching toward a new world" and urged Argentinian workers to “to defend their rights for themselves if these rights were not to be taken away by their enemies." Perón also embraced the hitherto derogatory connotation of his supporters as "shirtless" (descamisado), which became a metaphor for poor and destitute worker that Peronism would lead towards a "national liberation".[29]

Using the term justicalismo to describe his ideology, Perón propagated it as socialismo nacional cristiano - "Christian national socialism", an unclear term that he used to discuss diverse government systems that in his belief corresponded to the will of the people while also considering the unique circumstances and culture of each nation.[30] According to Richard Gillespie, this expression meant to convey "a ‘national’ road to socialism, understood as a system of economic socialization and popular power respectful of specific national conditions and traditions."[31] In 1967, Perón defended his notion of 'national socialism' by arguing that "nationalism need not be at odds with socialism", given that "both, in the end, far from being antagonistic, can be united with a common goal of liberation of peoples and men". In the September 1972 meeting of left-wing Peronist groups, Peronism was described as "the national expression of socialism, insofar as it represents, expresses and develops in action the aspirations of the popular masses and the Argentine working class". Peronism was regarded as a form of autochthonous socialism that was to grant "political and economic emancipation" to the workers of Argentina.[32] However, whether Peronism constituted a genuine socialist movement of non-Marxist nature is unclear. John J. Johnson and Kalman H. Silvert linked Peronism to Argentinian reactionary nationalism and concluded that it is a fascist movement, whereas Juan José Hernández Arregui and Jorge Abelardo Ramos considered Peronism a variant of left-wing nationalism or a "revolutionary, anti-imperialist, nationalist movement".[33] Jorge Castañeda Gutman describes Peronism as a national populist movement that "undoubtedly belongs on the left of the political spectrum."[34]

Peronism was a broad movement that encompassed several ideologies and concepts. Argentinian historian Cristian Buchrucker described it as a mixture of nationalist, populist and Christian socialist elements, while Humberto Cucchetti stated that Peronism was an accumulation of many political concepts such as "nationalist socialism, trade unionist tradition, nationalisation of the middle strata, charismatic leadership, revolutionary prophetism, Third Worldism, justicialist ethics, Christian utopia, popular mobilisation and outlines of democratisation". While the movement was in the state of constant struggle between competing ideological movements between it, it never abandoned trade unions and its "revolutionary rhetoric that claimed to assume directly the features of a nationalist liberation movement".[35]

From the perspective of its opponents, Peronism is an authoritarian ideology. Perón was often compared to fascist dictators, accused of demagoguery and his policies derided as populist. Proclaiming himself the embodiment of nationality, Perón's government often silenced dissent by accusing opponents of being unpatriotic, especially noticeable in his second term from 1952 to 1955, where these policies were intensified as a form of control in the face of crisis. The corporatist character of Peronism drew attacks from socialists who accused his administration of preserving capitalist exploitation and class division. Conservatives rejected its modernist ideology and felt their status threatened by the ascent of the Peronist apparat. Liberals condemned the Perón regime's arbitrariness and dictatorial tendencies.[citation needed]

The Economist has called Peronism "an alliance between trade unions and the "caudillos" of the backward north".[36]

Chilean senator Ignacio Walker has criticized Peronism as having "Fascistoid", "authoritarian" and "corporative" traits and a "perverse logic" considering this "the real wall between Chile and Argentina" and "not the Andes".[37]

Defenders of Peronism also describe the doctrine as populist, albeit in the sense that they believe it embodies the interests of the masses and in particular the most vulnerable social strata. Admirers hold Perón in esteem for his administration's anti-imperialism and non-alignment as well as its socially progressive initiatives.[15]

In his political science book Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics, Seymour Martin Lipset argued that the most distinguishable aspect of Peronism is that it is oriented towards trade unions, workers and class struggle, writing that "Peronism, much like Marxist parties, has been oriented toward the poorer classes, primarily urban workers but also the more impoverished rural population." He characterized Peronism as an ideology best described as "anticapitalist populist nationalism which appeals to the lower strata". Lipset also took note of a view that Peronism is a fascist movement, but argued that Peronism can only be seen as a left-wing equivalent of fascism: "If Peronism is considered a variant of fascism, then it is a fascism of the left because it is based on the social strata who would otherwise turn to socialism or Communism as an outlet for their frustrations."[38] Lipset concluded that Peronism should be seen as a "form of “left” extremism".[39]

In context of political dichotomy of Argentina, historian Daniel James argues that "Peronism within the Peron/anti-Peron dichotomy that dominated the political and social context was per se leftist, anti-establishment and revolutionary".[40] Similarly, James P. Brennan claims that as a movement, Peronism is ultimately a left-wing coalition that appeals to “national popular” tradition, writing that "this hemisphere of the political spectrum would support the statement that Peronism is a forerunner of social democracy."[41] According to political scientist Torcuato di Tella, Peronism occupies the same place as left-wing political parties in Europe. Comparing Argentinian politics to Italian one, he writes:

This comparison between the Italian and the Argentine party structures assumes a certain equivalence between the Radical party and the Christian Democratic cum Socialist alliance. On the other side of the main conflict line, the Peronists would occupy a position akin to that of the Communists.[42]


Twenty Peronist Tenets

From Perón's "Peronist Philosophy":[43]

  1. "A true democracy is that one in which the government does what the people want and defends only one interest: the people's."
  2. "Peronism is essentially of the common people. Any political elite is anti-people, and thus, not Peronist."
  3. "A Peronist works for the movement. Whoever, in the name of Peronism, serves an elite or a leader, is a Peronist in name only."
  4. "For Peronism, there is only one class of person: those who work."
  5. "Working is a right that creates the dignity of men; and it's a duty, because it's fair that everyone should produce as much as they consume at the very least."
  6. "For a good Peronist, there is nothing better than another Peronist." (In 1973, after coming back from exile, in a conciliatory attempt, and in order to lessen the division in society, Peron reformed this tenet to: "For an Argentine, there is nothing better than another Argentine.")
  7. "No Peronist should feel more than what he is, nor less than what he should be. When a Peronist feels more than what he is, he begins to turn into an oligarch."
  8. "When it comes to political action, the scale of values of every Peronist is: Argentina first; the movement second; and thirdly, the individuals."
  9. "Politics are not an end, but a means for the well-being of Argentina: which means happiness for our children and greatness for our nation."
  10. "The two arms of Peronism are social justice and social help. With them, we can give a hug of justice and love to the people."
  11. "Peronism desires national unity and not struggle. It wants heroes, not martyrs."
  12. "Kids should be the only privileged class."
  13. "A government without doctrine is a body without soul. That's why Peronism has a political, economic and social doctrine: Justicialism."
  14. "Justicialism is a new philosophy of life: simple, practical, of the common people, and profoundly Christian and humanist."
  15. "As political doctrine, Justicialism balances the right of the individual and society."
  16. "As an economic doctrine, Justicialism proposes a social market, putting capital to the service of the economy and the well-being of the people."
  17. "As a social doctrine, Justicialism carries out social justice, which gives each person their rights in accordance to their social function."
  18. "Peronism wants an Argentina socially 'fair', economically 'free' and politically 'sovereign'."
  19. "We establish a centralized government, an organized State and a free people."
  20. "In this land, the best thing we have is our people."

Internal currents

Peronism in the sense of ideology and policies of Juan Perón is considered to be a variant of left-wing populism.[5][44] Perón's policies were described as socialist,[45] and his ideology was summarized as a type of "corporate democratic socialism".[46] estructured Peronist platform that "returned the Peronist Justice Party to its traditional center-left stance following a long detour to center-right neoliberalism under Carlos Menem".[47]

Peronism as well as anti-Peronism both spanned the entire ideological spectrum, including far-right fascism and far-left Marxism.[48] This led to both left-wing as well as right-wing Peronist regimes in Argentina, with competing wings of Peronism fighting not only anti-Peronist forces, but also each other.[49] Early Peronism of the 1940s and 1950s was heavily based on left-wing and socialist rhetoric, with Perón largely relying on his socialist supporters and trade unions movements; Raanan Rein notes that the ideology and policies of Peronism "were based largely on concepts that had been forged by the Argentine left wing in various debates since the beginning of the century and that had been expounded by people such as Justo, Dickmann, Ugarte, and Palacios."[50] Similarly, Daniel James observed that in the Peronist movement, "the initiative very much lay with the trade union movement; Perón was more its creature than the labor movement was his."[51]

After being overthrown and exiled from Argentina in 1955, Perón shifted his rhetoric further leftwards and promoted Cuban Revolution as well as Liberation theology, which gave rise to the far-left wing of Peronism, Tendencia Revolucionaria.[52] Born in an anti-Peronist Argentinian family, Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara visited Perón and praised Peronism as "indigenous Latin American socialism with which the Cuban Revolution could side".[53] Likewise, left-wing Catholic priests embraced Peronism, calling it an effective realization of liberation theology, and arguing that Peronism and Catholicism were united in their goals of "love for the poor, for those persecuted for defending justice and for fighting against injustice".[54] However, after Perón's return to power in 1973, the right-wing Peronist faction started growing in strenght, mainly thanks to the conflict of left-wing Peronists such as the Montoneros with powerful trade unions.[55] Between mid-1970s and 1990s, Peronism was then dominated by right-wing factions such as far-right Orthodox Peronism and neo-liberal Menemism; Peronism would shift back to the left afterwards and came to be dominated by left-wing Kirchnerism, credited for being a Peronist current that "returned the Peronist Justice Party to its traditional center-left stance following a long detour to center-right neoliberalism under Carlos Menem".[22]

Despite the extreme ideological divergences amongst anti-Peronists as well as Peronists, Peronism as a general ideology is considered left-wing, and grupped with other left-wing populist movements as Chavismo and Evismo.[56] Historian Daniel James argues that "Peronism within the Peron/anti-Peron dichotomy that dominated the political and social context was per se leftist, anti-establishment and revolutionary".[57] Because of this, the current dominant faction of Peronism, left-wing Kirchnerism, is seen as a "back-to-roots" movement that reclaimed the ideology of "classical Peronism".[58] Nevertheless, the Justicialist Party is not considered left-wing as it also contains 'dissident Peronists' opposed to left-wing Kirchnerism and following the marginalized right-leaning strands of Peronism instead.[59] The core tenets of Peronism include defense of nationalism, anti-imperialism and laborism, together with political sovereignty, economic independence and social justice being the three primary pillars of the justicialist movement.[58]


Vandorism or neo-Peronism was the expression of Argentine trade unionism, which conceived of itself as a trade union party, a factor of power, a force of its own that came to claim for itself the political representation of Peronism and assumed Peronism "without Perón", during the Peronist resistance since 1955. It was promoted mainly by the center-right party Unión Popular.[60]

Orthodox Peronism

Orthodox Peronism was the sector of Peronism that prevailed mainly (together with La Tendencia) at the end of the 60s, during the Peronist resistance, and that demanded total attachment to Perón's presidencies. In the consolidation of Orthodoxy, it included the most intransigent sectors of Peronism and, therefore, the most reluctant to accept any type of agreement with the government. With Peron's return to the presidency and his notable attachment to the most nationalist sectors of Peronism, it began to encompass those most reactionary sectors of the Peronist right that repudiated the sectors proclaimed revolutionary of Peronism identified as the Revolutionary Tendency. These sectors never identified themselves as the Peronist right, and claimed the title of Third Position, moving away from both the United States and the USSR. Historians mention not making the mistake of classifying them only within the political spectrum on the political right, since it also included those centrist sectors that wanted to distance themselves from Revolutionary Peronism.[61][62][63] Orthodox Peronists ruled Argentina during the short-lived presidency of Isabel Perón between 1974 and 1976, but maintained party control after the 1976 Argentine coup d'état. The faction suffered a massive setback after the defeat of its candidate Ítalo Lúder in the 1983 Argentine general election, and lost its lingering influence to the renewal wing of Peronism in 1987 under Antonio Cafiero.[64]

Revolutionary Peronism

Revolutionary Peronism were those sectors of Peronism, mainly young, who, influenced by the world historical moment they were going through, began to relate the essence of Peronism to the socialist revolution. Which were of great relevance during the Peronist resistance and the violent decade of the 70s. This area of Peronism is mainly classified as left or extreme left in the political spectrum, due to its large presence in the guerrilla sphere. The Tendency was mainly at odds with the Peronist Right and the Peronist Orthodoxy.[65]

Renovation Peronism

The Peronist Renovation emerged as an internal current in Peronism after the electoral defeat of 1983. It was formally constituted in 1985 by publishing its foundational manifesto signed by its national leaders: Antonio Cafiero, Carlos Grosso and Carlos Menem. Therefore, it constituted those Peronists who wanted to distance themselves from the process witnessed during the seventies with Peronist orthodoxy and the revolutionary tendency. Ideologically, it articulated the national-popular values of Peronism with liberal democracy values, such as the rule of law, deliberation and representative democracy. At the same time, it brought together sectors from the center and the right-wing.[66][67]


Menemism is a term that designates the configuration of discursive and symbolic elements that accompanied the actions of the governments of Carlos Saúl Menem as head president of the Argentine Republic during the years 1989–1999. Menem broke with the protectionist and anti-capitalist Peronist orthodoxy in favor of sharply neoliberal policies, including curtailing social spending, privatization, liberalizing trade and tying Argentinian currency to the US dollar.[68] It is also used to designate that ideological movement around his figure, whose neoliberal ideology is described as center-right or right-wing.[69][70]

Federal Peronism

Federal Peronism, also called dissident Peronism, is that non-Kirchnerist or anti-Kirchnerist Peronism that emerges as an alternative to it. It is a space that covers various sectors of right or center Peronism.[71][72]


Kirchnerism is a center-left political movement centered around the governments of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. In 2019, Kirchnerism won the vice presidency of the Nation with Cristina Kirchner herself and with the sectors of federal Peronism, Alberto Fernández as president. In international politics they usually describe it as a movement of the political left.[73][74][75]

Perón's policies

Socialism, nationalism, and populism

Perón's ideas were widely embraced by a variety of different groups in Argentina across the political spectrum. Some of Perón's personal views later became a burden on the ideology, such as his anti-clericalism, which did not strike a sympathetic chord with upper-class Argentinians.

Peronism is widely regarded as a form of corporate socialism, or "right-wing socialism".[76] Perón's public speeches were consistently nationalist and populist. It would be difficult to separate Peronism from corporate nationalism, for Perón nationalized Argentina's large corporations, blurring distinctions between corporations and government. At the same time, the labor unions became corporate, ceding the right to strike in agreements with Perón as Secretary of Welfare in the military government from 1943 to 1945. In exchange, the state was to assume the role of negotiator between conflicting interests.

Donald C. Hodges described Peronism as a "peculiar brand of socialism" that heavily incorporated elements of nationalism and Christian social teaching.[77] Main sources of inspiration for Perón and his polices were the Italian fascism of Mussolini, British laborism and the American New Deal. However, Peronists would avoid the socialist label because the Socialist Party of Argentina was considered a part of the Infamous Decade establishment, and because atheist tenets of socialism would alienate the working-class supporters of Perón. This prompted the movement to use the label of "justicialism" instead. Nevertheless, Hodges argues that despite its eccentric character, Peronism was a "Christian and humanist version of socialism" that aimed to develop a syndicalist state. Perón did express sympathy towards socialism in his speeches, stating: "I have not the least doubt that in the twenty-first century the world will be socialist. . . whether it is called populism, socialism, or justicialism."[78]

Trade union membership drastically increased under Perón, and amounted to 42% of Argentinian workforce by the time Perón was removed from office - a record in Latin America. Social justice, the main slogan of Peronism, was realized through redistributive policies, which allowed real wages to increase by 25% between 1943 and 1948, while the share of wages and salaries in the national income rose to 50% in 1950. Peronist regime would also introduce a radical reform of workers' rights - Perón implemented paid annual holidays and paid sick leave, established state-paid redundancy and dismissal compensation and workplace accident compensation. One of the most famous Peronist reforms was the aguinaldo, thirteenth-month bonus to salary which Perón described as his "Christmas present" for the workers.[79]

The main and most distinctive element of Peronist economy was the "Social Pact". Perón aimed to turn Argentina into a syndicalist state that would eventually establish "socialism of the non-Marxist variety" as the core of its economy. Peronist "Social Pact" was a system of collective agreements between labour and capital, with the state acting as intermediary to establish an "equilibrium" between the two forces. Argentinian labor gradually increased its share of the national income, reaching 50% by 1955. Justicialism also assumed gradual introduction of organized labour into state legislature, which Perón implemented on a regional scale as an experiment - Chaco received a syndicalist constitution under which half of the state legislature was to be chosen by the provincial electorate of the General Confederation of Labour. Describing Perón's syndicalism, Hodges wrote: "This was a far cry from Fascist versions of the syndicalist state as representing both owners' associations and the trade unions. With functional representation limited to trade unions, Peron's democratic recasting of national syndicalism favored organized labor."[80]

Peronism also lacked a strong interest in matters of foreign policy other than the belief that the political and economic influences of other nations should be kept out of Argentina—he was somewhat isolationist. Early in his presidency, Perón envisioned Argentina's role as a model for other countries in Latin America and proposed economical unions with the countries of this region, which was expressed with his phrase: "The 2000s will find us unionized or dominated", but such ideas were ultimately abandoned. Despite his oppositional rhetoric, Perón frequently sought cooperation with the United States government on various issues.[citation needed][81] Perón would also align himself with socialist states such as Castro's Cuba and Allende's Chile. In his 1972 Actualization politica y docthnaha para la toma del poder, Perón included "perhaps the most revolutionary guidelines ever issued in his name", advising his supporters to reject Soviet communism while accepting Fidel Castro and Mao Tse-tung as fellow allies against American imperialism.[82]

Attitudes towards Indigenous peoples

By the time Perón came to power for the first time, there were around 129,000 Indigenous peoples in Argentina, amounting to around 0.8% of the total population. Despite their small numbers, Argentine Amerindians played a significant role in the populist rhetoric of Perónism. Perón presented himself as the champion of the working class and introduced a new kind of populist politics to Argentina that would heavily influence popular actions and the worker movement. Peronist rhetoric focused on the cult of the "common man" and vilified anti-Peronist groups which were portrayed as the establishment. Peronist appeal was successfully amplified by Eva Perón, whose fond and passionate speeches attracted the most marginalized parts of the Argentinian society.[83]

Peronist rhetoric had significant appeal to Argentinians of indigenous and African ancestry, and Perón recognized indigenous peoples as Argentine citizens and attempted to reorganize the state institutions responsible for their welfare. Embracing both the Peronist rhetoric and principles of populism, indigenous supporters of Peronism became known as the caciques, and inspired both political engagement and trust in state institutions amongst fellow natives. Because of this, Peronism made national politics relevant to indigenous communities of Argenitina for the first time and helped integrate them into the previously hostile Argentinian nation state. Mapuche leader Jeronimo Maliqueo described indigenous peoples as "the first Peronists", with Perón turning a previously invisible group of Argentinian society into active political actors.[83]

Given a near-total lack of national visibility of indigenous communities in Argentina before 1943, Perón's eagerness to make direct overtures to indigenous peoples was revolutionary to 1940s Argentinian politics. Peron and Evita were frequently photographed alongside indigenous Argentinians, and Perón's second five-year plan from 1952 included a direct reference to them: "The indigenous population will be protected through the direct action of the state, via their progressive incorporation into the rhythms and [living] standards of general national life." According to government minister of Argentina, while the indigenous population was extremely small, pro-native policies were included in Peronist plan because the indigenous peoples had "always merited the affectionate concern of our President." Perón also designed 19 April as an international day of commemoration for indigenous peoples.

The most important concession to indigenous community made by Peronism was its reform of the 1949 Constitution, which gave Native Argentinians equal states by removing the document's references to "racial differences" amongst Argentinians. A Peronist legislator from Tucuman that took part in the rewriting of the constitution stated that indigenous peoples "are as Argentine as we are ...I have seen them cheer for the country and for [the president] . . . in whom they have placed all their hopes for social redemption." As the result, indigenous peoples were able to receive military enrollment and citizenship papers for the first time, and were given voting rights under Perón. Seeking to utilize support for Perón amongst the native communities, Peronist activists would organize registration campaigns amongst the indigenous. Anthropologist Claudia Briones recalled that during her visit to a Mapuche village, one of her interlocutors remarked: "Peron made us people! He gave us documents."[83]

According to Christine Mathias, "Perón enjoyed far more widespread popularity among indigenous people than any other Argentine leader". In 1943, Perón created labor ministry Secretario de Trabajo y Prevision, which was to oversee indigenous affairs and reservations; a decree from 1945 declared that "the state’s actions to protect indigenous populations have been characterized by narrowness and ineffectiveness, principally because they were never designated sufficient and lasting facilities or resources." In 1946 Perón then founded Direccion de Proteccion del Aborigen (DPA), with Mapuche leader Jeronimo Maliqueo becoming the director of the organization. Malique very frequently visited indigenous communities in Argentina, pledging: "As the Indian I am, I will never abandon the cause of the Indians. I will continue to be a nuisance no matter who is in power." Malique's appointment reinvigorated indigenous communities across Argentina. Toba leader Pablo Machado stated that the news had left all of the Toba-Qom people "with their hearts full of joy".[83]

Attitudes towards Jews

Argentina has had the largest Jewish population in Latin America since before Perón came to power. After becoming president, he invited members of the Jewish community to participate in his government. One of his advisors was José Ber Gelbard, a Jewish man from Poland. Peronism did not have an antisemitic bias.[84] The Jewish Virtual Library writes that while Juan Perón had sympathized with the Axis powers, Perón also expressed sympathy for Jewish rights and established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949. Since then, more than 45,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel from Argentina".[85]

Shortly after coming to power, Perón faced accusations of antisemitism from both his domestic opponents as well as the United States. Jeffrey K. Marder remarks that anti-Peronists "distorted the facts, hastily and erroneously characterizing Perón as an antisemite", while the United States Department of State portrayed Peronism as a "Nazi menace", publishing the "Blue Book" in 1946. However, most foreign observers started changing their view on Perón by late 1940s and early 1950s - in his 1953 book Peron's Argentina, American historian George I. Blanksten criticized Perón but credited him with disavowal of antisemitism. Likewise, the American Jewish Year Book reports from 1949 and 1950 delineated problems faced by the Jewish community in Argentina, but found little fault in Perón and his regime. Perón maintained cordial relations with Jewish groups and his interaction with the Jewish community mostly consisted of exchanging favors.[86]

Perón's movement was mainly based on industrial workers and the labor movement, which became the very foundation of his support base. However, Perón also attempted to appeal to marginalized and outsider groups of Argentinian society, which included numerous ethnic and immigrant communities. Argentinian Jews had significant influence on socialist and communist parties and trade unions, but stayed on the margins of Argentine social and political life, facing both discrimination and assimilationist policies of the 1930s liberal government. Perón sought to recruit the Jewish community into his Peronist support base as to broaden the support for his "New Argentina" and also dispel the accusations of fascism.[87]

In 1947, Perón founded Organización Israelita Argentina (OIA), the Jewish wing of the Peronist Party, in attempt to promote his ideology amongst the Jewish community. While OIA failed to attract much support of Argentinian Jews, it became an intermediary between Perón and the Jewish community. Argentinian Jews entered dialogue with Perón through IOA, securing favors and concessions. Jewish newspapers in Argentina particularly praised the socialist nature of Perón's planned economy, leading to limited expressions of support. Peronism allowed the Jewish community to actively participate in the political life of Argentina; Jewish writer Isaías Lerner remarked: "The triumph of Perón meant a greater participation of the [Jewish] community in the political arena. For the first time in Argentina’s political history, a political party courted our community."[87]

In the book Inside Argentina from Perón to Menem, author Laurence Levine, also former president of the U.S.–Argentine Chamber of Commerce, writes that "although anti-Semitism existed in Argentina, Perón's own views and his political associations were not anti-Semitic".[88]

While Perón allowed many Nazi and other WWII-era Axis criminals to take refuge in Argentina, he also attracted many Jewish immigrants. Argentina has a Jewish population of over 200,000 citizens, one of the largest in the world.[89]


Peronism is often compared and paralleled with Nasserism, or considered a variety thereof.[90] In this context, Nasserism is described as a form of populism characterized by militarism, reformism and challenge to the status quo. 'Nasserite' populism finds its support in trade unions and the lower classes, and positions itself as a "social-revolutionary party" that unites itself not around an ideology, but a charismatic leader.[90] Donald C. Hodges argues that Nasserism and Peronism are so similar that they became interchangeable when referring to the distinct type of populism both movements represented, writing: "The terms “Nasserism” and “Peronism” are interchangeable when applied to the younger generation of left-wing officers in Latin America."[91] Workers' Revolutionary Party, a Trotskyist political party in Mexico, stated that both Perón and Nasser were an embodiment of Bonapartism, arguing that both movements represented what Leon Trotsky described as "those special governments that rely on the workers' movement, looking for a broader base in order to resist the excessive demands of imperialism."[92]

According to Lily Pearl Balloffet, the connection between Nasserism and Peronism was not a mere coincidence, arguing that the Nasserist movement was inspired by Perón and actively engaged in translation projects to make the Peronist doctrine accessible and familiar to Arabic-speaking audiences. In 1953, Lebanese-Argentinian journalist Nagib Baaclini published an article named "Egypt Has Her Own Perón Now", in which he discussed both the ideological and political closeness of both regimes. When interviewed on the parallels between Perón and Nasser, a functionary of the Egyptian Legation, Ahmed Mattar, replied: "Naguib? … He is the Perón of Egypt! You Argentines can understand Naguib perfectly, because you have had to fight doggedly, as we have, for your liberty, and you have achieved [this] thanks to your magnificent leader, who is similar to Naguib." Key common features of both regimes observed by the contemporary press were anti-imperialist nationalism, the 'Third Position' philosophy of non-alignment in the Cold War and "socialist" economic policies.[93]

The "Third Position" espoused by Perón as well as Nasser is seen as the most important ideological feature of both regimes. In foreign policy, the "Third Position" meant that both Argentina and Egypt would follow a path of development that rejected American and Soviet imperialism in favor of a non-aligned, anti-imperialist stance. Economically, too, Perón and Nasser emphasized the need to pursue a different policy from that of American capitalism and Soviet communism - a non-Marxist socialism, which for Perón was a "national socialism" (or justicalism) and for Nasser an Arab socialism. The agrarian socialism of the Narodniks, the justicalism of Perón, the Arab socialism of Nasser and the "Third Universal Theory" of Gaddafi together form a group of "Third Position" economic policies.[94] Political scientist Torcuato di Tella notes that apart from similar ideologies and policies, Nasserism and Peronism emerged in nearly identical socioeconomic conditions - both movements were able to come in power thanks to the large presence of reform-minded middle-ranking and low-ranking military officers. Di Tella refers to both regimes as representing "military socialism", along with the Brazilian Tenentism, 1968 Peruvian coup d'état and the Bolivian Socialist Revolution of 1936.[95]

Political scientists Elie Podeh and Onn Winckler note that analyzing Nasserism will naturally "rely on insights derived from Latin American models, especially Peronism", arguing that both movements are exemplary of Third World populism.[96] They also note that both regimes have similarities that go beyond populism - as their revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideology went beyond rhetoric and was translated into policies and profound changes in the societies of Argentina and Egypt, Peronism and Nasserism are credited with introducing egalitarianism to erstwhile inequal societies full of marginalized groups; they write: "As was the case in Argentina under Perón, the message of the [Nasserist] regime was clear: In the revolutionary era, talent, rather than social position, determined one’s standing. Equal opportunities were open to all."[97] Samir Amin likewise noted the 'progressive' character of both movements. On Nasser, he wrote: "Nasserism then achieved what it could: a resolutely anti-imperialist international posture and progressive social reforms." Similarly, Amin remarked on Perón: "Perónist populism was anti-imperialist and progressive in its own way. The excesses of language and manners by the general and his wife, Eva, should not take anything away from the positive measures made in favor of workers."[98]

Reinhard C. Heinisch described Nasserism and Peronism as egalitarian and anti-imperialist, arguing that despite transcending conventional ideological boundaries, both movements had a discernible, similar ideology.[99] Podeh and Winckler argue that Nasserism can be seen as an independent ideology and movement because it went beyond Egypt and affected the political development of the Arab World as the whole, while "Peronism and other forms of populism in Latin America have not radiated beyond state borders".[100] However, Jean Bernadette Grugel notes that Peronism did have impact in the rest of Latin America - Víctor Paz Estenssoro and the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement of Bolivia identified with Peronism, and Carlos Ibáñez del Campo of Chile openly identified with Peronism.[101] Feminist María de la Cruz, the campaign manager of Ibáñez, proclaimed:

This period of world revolution will go down in history as the century of Perón and Evita. These two are the most incredible and important characters of the period. Their thought is not only an ideology of the present, but also of the future... In Chile, the people identify totally with the justicialist doctrine. Peronism is as popular as Ibanismo in Chile... Peronism is the realisation of Christianity. So, the history of mankind will be divided into two important eras. From the first century to the twentieth century will be the Christian period, and from the twenty-first century onwards will be the Peronist period.[102]

Peronism and its success also led Latin American socialist to reevaluate their stance towards populism - just like socialists of Argentina broke ranks to support Peronism as a form of anti-imperialism and socialism, Ibáñez was also seen as a movement worthy of support. Grugel wrote: Alejandro Chelen testified to the fact that admiration for Peronism contributed to the Socialists' decision to support Ibáñez: 'The echoes of Argentine Peronism, very much in fashion then, infected the atmosphere.'" Grugel notes that "Justicialismo, Titoism, Nasserism, Maoism and Castroism served as an example for the 'revolutionary' socialists of the 1960s".[103] Workers Vanguard of the American Spartacist League also highlighted Peronism and Nasserism as dominating examples of "populist nationalism with a socialist coloration".[104]

Relation to Catholicism

The ideology of Perón is considered to have been influenced by Catholic social teaching and to be a mixture of many political currents, one of them being social Catholicism.[105] Peronism had a corporatist tendency that was rooted in social and political philosophy of the Catholic Church, with its origins in 19th-century Christian socialism and papal encyclicals of Popes Leo XII and Pius XI; this was a common denominator for other left-wing populist movements in the region, such as the one in Mexico and Peru.[106] Peronism borrowed heavily from Catholic motifs, promising a harmonous society free of class conflict and describing its demand for social justice as the need to "humanize the capital" and to "counter a heartless and godless pecuniary capitalism". Perón himself described his ideology of justicalismo as a "unifying Christian movement", and according to Michael Goebel, Perón rhetoric "had its pedigree in the ideas of social Catholicism".[107] Perón also used Catholic rhetoric to downplay the perceived socialist nature of his ideology, given that Argentinian socialism was unpopular amongst Peronist constituency because of its militant atheism; Hodges concludes that "Perón's peculiar brand of socialism played down the socialist label in favor of its national and Christian sources".[77]

Initially, Perón had excellent relations with the Church - the Catholic Church recognized the 1943 coup and had cordial relations with the military junta, and Perón inherited cordial relations with the clergy, who placed great hopes in the new regime.[107] The junta gained the support of the Church thanks to its decree from 31 December 1943, which introduced compulsory Catholic religious instruction in all public schools, and created the Department of Religious Instruction for the purpose of regulating religious education.[108] Local Catholic hierarchy overwhelmingly favored Perón in the 1946 election, praising him for his focus on social welfare and referring to papal encyclicals. Argentine bishops issued a pastoral letter instructing Catholics to not vote for any part that advocated for a separation of Church and state, which was a direct blow at political opponents of Perón.[109] The Catholic Church had also gained profound influence on Argentinian society after World War I given the decline of militant secularism that once permeated the upper and middle classes of Argentina. Because of this, "the Church was now recognised as a much-needed partner in any political project."[110]

The relations between the Church and Perón turned sour around 1949, as Perón attacked the part of the clergy for being "a bastion of extravagance and display" that conflicted with the cult of simplicity that Peronism promoted. Perón argued that a "socially just" Argentina must reject lavishness in favour of "religion of humility" and "the religion of the poor, of those who feel hunger and thirst for justice." In 1952, the Church attacked Perón for allowing the screening of defamatory films in Buenos Aires, along with the introduction of gradual restrictions on religious education in schools. The rift between Peronist government and the Catholic clergy became especially visible in August 1952, when the death of Eva Perón was virtually ignored by the Church. In 1953, a part of Argentinian clergy became "worker-priests" in style of the movement popular amongst French priests at the time - worker-priests took blue-collar jobs in mines and factories to challenge communist dominance of labour unions in favour of promoting Christian socialism. Perón feared that Argentine worker-priests could also try to infiltrate Peronist trade unions this way, and the ambition amongst some Catholic circles to politically challenge Perón was confirmed in 1954, following the attempt to create a new Christian Democratic party that year.[111]

By 1953, the relations with the Church became openly hostile, and Peronist legislation legalizing divorce and temporarily decriminializing prostitution further alienated the clergy.[112] In 1954, Perón accused members of the clergy of organizing a conspiracy against the government, although he highlighted "that they were in no way representative of the Church in Argentina". Perón continued to attack what he described as "materialistic section of the clergy", and two Italian prelates were expelled from Argentina.[113] Between 1954 and 1955, the government imprisoned several priests for short periods of time, accusing them of political meddling or infiltration of the state trade unions, and Peronist militias clamped down on Catholic processions and organizations. The tension between the Church and Perón culminated in his excommunication in 1955, which is considered to have directly caused military coup against him that year.[114] David Rock argued that "Perón's regime finally collapsed when it turned against the church."[111]

Perón gradually improved his relations with the Church when in exile. In 1961, the Church allowed Perón to marry Isabel Perón despite his excommunication, and in 1963 he formally petitioned Pope John XXIII for pardon, which the Pope granted; the news of Perón's pardon did not become aware in Argentina until 1971. Perón would be greatly influenced by the Church during his exile, and was particularly fascinated by the progressive reforms introduced in Vatican II. He built bridges with left-wing Latin American clergy, who came to perceive Peronism as the political expression of the option for the poor. Peronism became seen as precursor of liberation theology, and Perón openly embraced liberation theology in his writings. Left-wing Argentinian priests founded the Movement of Priests for the Third World, who argued that "the Peronist movement, revolutionary, with its massive force, … will necessarily lead to the revolution which will make possible an original and Latin American socialism." Perón also abandoned the term of justicalismo and instead described his ideology as "national socialism", which biographer Jill Hedges described as "an autochthonous form of socialism as opposed to international Marxism, not Nazism". Peronism came to be strongly associated with progressive and left-wing clergy in Argentina; Brazilian promotor of liberation theology Leonardo Boff described Pope Francis as a Peronist during his visit to Argentina in 2013, remarking that the Pope was "clearly defining that the enemy of the peoples is capitalism, and to say that he must have great courage: he has to be Argentine, he has to be a Jesuit and he has to be a Peronist."[115]

The fusion of liberation theology with Peronism in Argentina was credited with the rise of the far-left Peronist organization Montoneros. Leaders of Montoneros such as Mario Firmenich and Roberto Perdía were Catholic nationalists who belonged to the Catholic Action, and encountered Peronist priests such as Carlos Mugica there. David Copello argues that "in their case, religion paved the way towards Peronism", who embraced both the Christian socialism of liberation theology and nationalist socialism of Peronism.[116] Michael Goebel argues that the formation of left-wing revolutionary organizations committed to Peronism was the result of Perón's ideology being formed out of mainly left-wing Catholicism rather than nationalist or neo-fascist currents. Montoneros represented a radicalization of Peronism, promoting Perón's return to Argentina as a first step towards "national liberation", embracing Marxism and naming "socialist fatherland" as their goal. Goebel concludes that Peronism represented an "anti-imperialist and third-world liberation movement more than right-wing Argentine nacionalismo."[117] According to Richard Gillespie, "through its commitment to social justice and the popular cause, radical Catholicism drew many youths towards the Peronist Movement." From there, Peronists Catholics were radicalized into Marxism with the influence of priests such as Camilo Torres Restrepo, who promoted Peronism and liberation theology as alternative to atheist communism and argued that "revolution is not only permitted but is obligatory for all Christians who see in it the most effective way of making possible a greater love for all men". This resulted in the creation of various communist organizations that were "committed to Peronism, socialism, and armed struggle".[118]

Criticism of Perón's policies

Political opponents maintain that Perón and his administration resorted to organised violence and dictatorial rule; that Perón showed contempt for any opponents, and regularly characterised them as traitors and agents of foreign powers.[citation needed]

Perón subverted freedoms by nationalising the broadcasting system, centralising the unions under his control and monopolising the supply of newspaper print. At times, Perón also resorted to tactics such as illegally imprisoning opposition politicians and journalists, including Radical Civic Union leader Ricardo Balbín; and shutting down opposition papers, such as La Prensa.[citation needed]

Perón's admiration for Benito Mussolini is well documented.[119] Whether Peronism was fascist or not is heavily contested. Historian Federico Finchelstein, philosopher Donald C. Hodges and historian Daniel James argue that Perón was not fascist,[120][121][122] while lawyer Carlos Fayt, historian Paul Hayes and political scientist Paul H. Lewis categorise Peronism as a fascist ideology,[7] or as having been influenced by it.[120] Carlos Fayt believed that Peronism was "an Argentine implementation of Italian fascism".[7] Alternatively, Peronism is also considered "left-wing fascism".[123] Referring to this view, Seymour Martin Lipset argued that "If Peronism is considered a variant of fascism, then it is a fascism of the left because it is based on the social strata who would otherwise turn to socialism or Communism as an outlet for their frustrations."[124] Hayes reaches the conclusion that "the Peronist movement produced a form of fascism that was distinctively Latin American".[7][6] However, James P. Brennan remarked that "In general, even those authors convinced of the fascist character of Peronism recognize that its predominant characteristics resemble very little those of European fascism."[125]

One of the most vocal critics of Peronism was the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. After Perón ascended to the presidency in 1946, Borges spoke before the Argentine Society of Writers (SADE) by saying:

Dictatorships breed oppression, dictatorships breed servility, dictatorships breed cruelty; more loathsome still is the fact that they breed idiocy. Bellboys babbling orders, portraits of caudillos, prearranged cheers or insults, walls covered with names, unanimous ceremonies, mere discipline usurping the place of clear thinking [...] Fighting these sad monotonies is one of the duties of a writer. Need I remind readers of Martín Fierro or Don Segundo that individualism is an old Argentine virtue.[126]

Amongst scholars who argue that Peronism was not a fascist movement, Donald C. Hodges remarked that it is a "cheap academic trick to lump together fascism (...) and Peronism". Perón embraced the fascist concept of the state as the juridical instrument that can only function within and serve the nation, but rejected the organic notions of the state assuming the dominating role by organizing the nation. Perón also prided himself in his doctrinal flexibility and elasticity, and agreed with national syndicalism of Primo de Rivera in principle, although he ultimately pursued a different political path. Hodges argues that "In view of both its gradualism and its concern for striking a balance between extremes, justicialism has more in common with the American New Deal than with either Italian fascism or German national socialism."[121] Daniel James believes that the neo-corporatism of Peronism cannot be explained by any allegiance to fascist ideas, arguing that Perón "took his ideas principally from social catholic, communitarian ideologues rather than from any pre-1955 fascistic theory."[127] As a response to Carlos Fayt who characterized Perónism as fascist, James P. Brennan wrote:

A close study of Peronist ideology, however, shows that the differences between it and fascism are greater than their few similarities. The central components of Justicialismo — that is, of Peronist ideology — have roots in the Social Christianism and national populism of the FORJA (the yrigoyenista, the nationalist youth wing of the Radical Party in the 1930s), and in syndicalism. Moreover, this synthesis proved to be more resilient over time than many had assumed. In Peronism’s formative stage, the irrational vitalisme (“life” philosophy) and Social Darwinism of fascism had minimal and no influence, respectively. With regard to Italian corporatism, which ended up replacing the unions and democratic elections, it cannot be seriously compared with the syndicalist element in Peronism. Peronism’s presumedly expansionist goals likewise are nowhere in evidence, and Sebreli’s thesis does not stand up to the slightest analysis. The only similarity that can be acknowledged is the particular importance both ideologies granted to the concept of the leader.

Whereas Italian fascism and German nazism destroyed the universal suffrage that had existed in those countries, Peronism on the other hand put an end to the systematic electoral fraud that had been practiced in Argentina between 1932 and 1943. There was no militarization of society, nor was public spending directed toward a massive arms buildup. Economic policy was dirigisme, but if state, planning is an indicator of fascism, one would have to conclude that Mexico under Cardenas and Great Britain under the Labour governments were also Fascist states. The Peronist governments of 1946-1955 and 1973-1976 directed their efforts toward distributive and industrializing policies.[128]

According to Pablo Bradbury, while there was a great divergence between formal Peronist ideology and the wider Peronist movement, the ideology of Perón was not fascist; Bradbury argues that nationalism of Peronism was not rooted in a sense of expansion or imperialist greatness, but was left-wing nationalism that "found its most prominent expressions in anti-imperialism, whether against British economic dominance or US political interference." He also remarked that "Peronism originated in a military dictatorship, but established a populist authoritarian democracy". The democratizing movement within Peronism was significant, as it empowered previously marginalized groups - Peronism introduced universal suffrage and reshaped the definition of Argentinian citizenship and national identity. Bradbury also points to the racist rhetoric of middle-class and upper-class opponents of Peronism, who called Peronists cabecitas negras ("little black heads"), portraying the Peronist masses as prone to criminality, unsophisticated, dark-skinned and of immigrant background.[129] Michael Goebel likewise points to the inclusive character of Peronism that conflicted with the exclusive nature of fascism - non-Spanish surnames were far more prevalent amongst the Peronist leadership than among any other political movement in Argentina, and "even in the more marginal provinces, Peronist politicians often had rather recent immigrant origins."[112] Cas Mudde stated that "it is not an exaggeration to state that [Perón's] populism in general propelled democracy forward, both by encouraging democratic behavior and by enrolling lower class groups and their quest for social justice in political life."[130]

Marxist and socialist critics of Peronism presented the movement as fuelled by migrant, recently-arrived "new working class" that held traditionalist social views and was vulnerable to "authoritarian paternalism" of Perón. In this view, Peronism disempowered the 'old', socialist-aligned and established working class in Argentina by mobilizing "new arrivals" who flocked to Perón "without a clear consciousness of their class interests". Such view was espoused by writers such as Samuel Baily, who wrote that in Argentina, "the internal migrants and the organised workers viewed each other with hostility and suspicion"; according to Baily, Perón exploited this division by building his political base on 'class-unconscious' migrants who felt isolated by the established working class.[131] Post-Marxist Ernesto Laclau also supported this view, accusing Perón of preying on the 'irrationality' of internal migrants and describing Peronism as "left-wing fascism".[132] Socialist writers Timothy F. Harding and Hobart A. Spalding likewise accused Peronism of preventing the rise of revolutionary and militant tendencies amongst the Argentinian working class by infusing it with "false consciousness".[133]

However, validity of this perspective has been challenged by sociologists and historians such as Ronaldo Munck or Ricardo Falcón.[134] Analysing the demographics of Peronist support, sociologists Miguel Murmis and Juan Carlos Portantiero found that "the organisations and leaders of the ‘old’ working class participated intensely in the rise of Peronism" and argued that the participation of the Argentinian working class in the Peronist movement was not "passive, short sighted or divided".[135] Historian Walter Little disputed the significance of the division between "old" and "new" working class in Argentina, writing: "Far from being divided, the working class was remarkably homogeneous and explanations of popular support for Peronism must be developed on this basis."[136] Analysing the support of the trade union movement for Peronism, Munck and Falcón wrote: "Perón achieved the support of trade union leaders from the dissident socialists of the CGT No. 1, some of the major unions of the orthodox CGT No. 2, and in particular from the autonomous or independent unions, not forgetting the remnants of the syndicalist USA which had favoured this type of alliance since the 1935 split. Support from the leadership was matched by support from the rank and file."[137] Regarding class consciousness, sociologist Susan B. Tiano wrote that in the Harvard Project, a survey of working-class attitudes in Argentina during the 1960s, Peronism was found to be a "a major consciousness-increasing force among Argentine workers."[138] Likewise, Munck and Falcón conclude that "Peronism can be seen as an overall consciousness-raising factor, and the ideological cement for the cohesive and solidaristic social structures of the Argentine working class."[139]

Peronism after Perón

Fall of Perón

A military and civilian coup, the Revolución Libertadora, led by General Eduardo Lonardi, overthrew the Perón government in 1955. During the coup, Lonardi drew analogies between Perón and Juan Manuel de Rosas. Lonardi used the quote "neither victors nor vanquished" (Spanish: ni vencedores ni vencidos), which was used by Justo José de Urquiza after deposing Rosas in the battle of Caseros. The official perspective was that Perón was "the second tyranny", the first one being Rosas; and that both ones should be equally rejected and conversely both governments that ousted them should be praised. For this end, they draw the line of historical continuity "MayCaserosLibertadora", matching the coup with the May Revolution and the defeat of Rosas. This approach backfired. Perón was highly popular and the military coup unpopular, so Peronists embraced the comparison established between Rosas and Perón, but viewing him with a positive light instead.[140] Nationalist historians draw then their own line of historical continuity "San MartínRosasPerón".[141]

The absence of Perón, who lived for 16 years in exile in Francoist Spain, is an important key to understanding Peronism. After he went into exile, he could be invoked by a variety of Argentine sectors opposed to the current state of affairs. In particular, the personality cult of Eva Perón was conserved by supporters while despised by the "national bourgeoisie". In the 1960s, John William Cooke's writings became an important source of left-wing revolutionary Peronism. Left-wing Peronism was represented by many organizations, from the Montoneros and the Fuerzas Armadas Peronistas to the Peronist Youth, the Frente Revolucionario Peronista and the Revolutionary Peronist Youth, passing by Peronismo en Lucha or Peronismo de Base.[142]

On the other hand, older Peronists formed the base of the orthodox bureaucracy, represented by the Unión Obrera Metalúrgica (Augusto Vandor, famous for his 1965 slogan "For a Peronism without Perón" and declaring as well that "to save Perón, one has to be against Perón", or José Ignacio Rucci). Another current was formed by the "62 Organizaciones 'De pie junto a Perón'", led by José Alonso and opposed to the right-wing Peronist unionist movement. In the early 1970s, left-wing Peronism rejected liberal democracy and political pluralism as the mask of bourgeois domination. The anti-communist right-wing Peronism also rejected it in the name of corporatism, claiming to return to a "Christian and humanist, popular, national socialism".[142]

Perón restored

By 1970, many groups from opposite sides of the political spectrum had come to support Perón, from the left-wing and Catholic Montoneros to the fascist-leaning and strongly antisemitic Tacuara Nationalist Movement, one of Argentina's first guerrilla movements. In March 1973, Héctor José Cámpora, who had been named as Perón's personal delegate, was elected President of Argentina, paving the way for the return of Perón from Spain. A few months after Perón's return and the subsequent Ezeiza massacre during which the Peronist Left and Right violently clashed, new elections were held in September with Perón elected president and his third wife Isabel vice president.[142]

José Cámpora, a left-wing Peronist, had been replaced temporarily by interim President Raúl Alberto Lastiri. Though up to 1972 Perón staunchly supported Tendencia Revolucionaria embodied by Peronist youth organisations and the Montoneros, the trade union movement that was the largest Peronist faction felt marginalized, and their growing bitterness towards Perón threatened the stability of the movement. Because of this, when he became President again, Perón made significant concessions to Argentinian trade unions, which in turn "threw their considerable financial and organisational resources behind Perón". This led to marginalization of the Peronist Left, who was "driven into sullen compliance or into clandestine opposition".[143] Constant skirmishes between revolutionary Peronists and Peronist trade unions took place between 1973 and 1974 - Montoneros would assassinate trade union leaders, whereas the trade union bureucracy used its growing power within the administration to expel hostile parts of Peronist Left, as signified by José Rucci, CGT leader, stating that ‘there will be no more messing around’.[55] On 1 October 1973, Senator Humberto Martiarena, who was the national secretary of the Superior Council of the National Justicialist Movement, publicized a document giving directives to confront "subversives, terrorist and Marxist groups" which had allegedly initiated a "war" inside the Peronist organizations.[142] From then on, the Superior Council took a firm grip on the Peronist organizations to expel the Left from it.[142]

On that same day, a meeting took place among President Raúl Lastiri, Interior Minister Benito Llambí, Social Welfare Minister José López Rega, general secretary of the Presidency José Humberto Martiarena and various provincial governors, which has been alleged to have been the foundational act of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, orthodox peronist and death squad.[144]

Perón's health was failing throughout his third and final term, which ended abruptly with his death and the succession of his wife to the presidency on 1 July 1974, but she was ousted by the military in another coup d'état in 1976, paving the way for the ensuing dictatorship's "National Reorganization Process" and the subsequent "Dirty War" against everyone deemed subversive, especially leftists, including left-wing Peronists.

Menem years

The official Peronist party is the Justicialist Party (PJ), which was the only Peronist party for a long time. During the government of Carlos Menem, a group of legislators led by Carlos Álvarez known as the "Group of 8" left the party, claiming that the government was not following Peronist doctrines. They created a new party, the Broad Front.

A short time later, José Octavio Bordón left the PJ as well, fearing that he might lose a primary election against Menem and thus he created his own party to take part in the 1995 elections and allied with Álvarez' Broad Front in the Front for a Country in Solidarity (Frepaso) coalition. Similar breakaway movements followed frequently after that, creating many small parties which were led by single politicians claiming to be the authentic inheritors of Peronism.


Néstor Kirchner addressing a multitude at Gualeguaychú

The PJ did not participate as such during the 2003 elections. The party allowed all three precandidates to run for the general elections, using small parties created for that purpose.[145] Néstor Kirchner won the elections running on a Front for Victory ticket.[146] As he did not disband his party after the election, Kirchnerism relies on both the PJ and the Front for Victory.

See also


  1. ^ Spanish: peronismo
  2. ^ Spanish: justicialismo. The Justicialist Party is the main Peronist party in Argentina, it derives its name from the concept of social justice.


  1. ^
    • Munck, Ronaldo; Falcón, Ricardo [in Spanish]; Galitelli, Bernardo (1987). Argentina: From Anarchism to Peronism: Workers, Unions and Politics, 1855-1985. Zed Books. pp. 241–242. ISBN 9780862325701. This process of assimilation and developing class consciousness took place under the hegemony of Peronism, an essentially nationalist labourist ideology.
    • James P. Brennan (1998). Peronism and Argentina. Scholarly Resources Inc. p. 214. ISBN 0-8420-2706-8. Of all the varieties of populism, it is well known that Peronism is unique because of its large and strong trade union component.
    • Halperin-Donghi, Tulio (1998). "The Peronist Revolution and its Ambiguous Legacy" (PDF). The Institute of Latin American Studies Occasional Papers. University of London (17): 24. ISSN 0953-6825. Beyond these specific considerations, Peron's opening of the movement's structures to the leftist currents reflected his more permanent concern for the dominant influence labour had imposed on the movement since its creation; already in 1946 this had moved him to grant an unjustifiably large representation in its structures to the dissident Radicals.
  2. ^
    • James, Daniel (1988). Resistance and integration: Peronism and the Argentine working class, 1946-1976. Cambridge University Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-521-46682-2. Peronism within the Peron/anti-Peron dichotomy that dominated the political and social context was per se leftist, anti-establishment and revolutionary, and loyalty to its exiled and vilified leader often seemed enough of a definition of a political strategy.
    • Yilmaz, Ihsan; Saleem, Raja M. Ali (1 March 2022). "Military and Populism: A Global Tour with a Special Emphasis on the Case of Pakistan". Populism & Politics. European Center for Populism Studies. 10 (1): 11. doi:10.55271/pp0010. Perhaps the most famous left-wing populist general was the Argentinian Juan Perón, who became the face of socialist populism (Calvo, 2021; Gillespie, 2019).
    • Drake, Paul W. (2009). Between Tyranny and Anarchy: A History of Democracy in Latin America, 1800-2006. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-8047-6002-7. This priority for elitist order became a recurrent anthem on the right, from Venezuelan Simon Bolívar in the 1820s, to Chilean Diego Portales in the 1830s, to Argentines Juan Bautista Alberdi and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento in the 1850s, to Uruguayan José Enrique Rodó in the 1900s, to Chilean Augusto Pinochet and his plans in the 1980s for a democracy constrained by authoritarian features. By contrast, popular democracy became a lasting refrain on the left from Mexican Miguel Hidalgo in the 1810s, to the Mexican revolutionaries in the 1910s, to Peruvian Victor Raul Haya de la orre in the 1930s, to the Guatemalan revolutionaries and Argentine Juan Perón and Venezuelan Romulo Betancourt in the 1940s, to the National Revolutionary Movement in Bolivia in the 1950s, to Cuban Fidel Castro in the 1960s, to Chilean Salvador Allende and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in the 1970s, to Peruvian Alan Garcia in the 1980s, to Venezuelan Hugo Chávez and Bolivian Evo Morales and Ecuadorean Rafael Correa in the 2000s. hey placed a greater emphasis on mass mobilization dedicated to social equality.
    • Funke, Manuel; Schularick, Moritz; Trebesch, Christoph (23 October 2020). Populist Leaders and the Economy (PDF). p. 91. ISSN 0265-8003. Juan Perón ruled Argentina as president from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974. He led "an anti-elitist movement that opposed the landowner oligarchy and established institutions" (Filc 2011, 228f). (...) With a view to the economy, he stressed social justice (Eatwell 2017a, Rooduijn 2014, Tamarin 1982), "railed against the idle and exploitative rich" (Eatwell 2017a, 375) and against "the local oligarchy, the foreign investors, and their political representatives" (Barbieri 2015). In his discourse the "main distinction between the people and the elite was of socioeconomic status" (Barbieri 2015, 217). He is therefore coded as left-wing populist.
    • Nicolás Cachanosky; Alexandre Padilla; Alejandro Gómez (2021). "Immigration and institutional change: Did mass immigration cause peronism in argentina?". Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 184 (1). doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2021.01.027. We find no direct link between mass immigration and the rise of Peronism in Argentina. Even though immigrants were a crucial factor in Argentina's social and economic development, the rise of Perón and left-of-center populism resulted from politics unrelated to immigrants' presence. (...) Perón, not the preceding military governments, pushed government spending beyond its sustainable levels in a typical left-populist fashion (Dornbusch and Edwards, 1990).
    • Hodges, Donald C. (1976). Argentina 1943-1976: The National Revolution and Resistance. University of New Mexico Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-8263-0422-2. Actually, the terms "Nasserism" and "Peronism" are interchangeable when applied to the younger generation of left-wing officers in Latin America.
    • Castañeda Gutman, Jorge (1994). Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War. Vintage Books. pp. 39–40. ISBN 0-394-58259-4. Until the Cuban Revolution, Communist parties had shared the Latin American left's political stage with another broad political current that today partially retains its importance. The national-popular sectors that embody this movement trace their origins back to Latin America's so-called "populist" tradition that surfaced in the 1930s. Peron in Argentina, Cardenas in Mexico, Vargas in Brazil, Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra in Ecuador, Haya de la Torre's APRA in Peru, and, up to a point, Victor Paz Estenssoro's Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario in Bolivia often continue to be central historical reference points for many contemporary political movements. These movements' original leaders, together with the historical periods of collective consciousness and popular enfranchisement, are symbols of an era and a certain idea of modernity in Latin America: the inclusion of the excluded.
    • Gansley-Ortiz, Antonio Luis (2018). "Perón and the Argentine Paradox: An Investigation into an Economic Mystery". Senior Projects. Bard Digital Commons. 306: 25. Regardless, Peronism is universally agreed upon to be a left wing populism which tends towards the authoritarian, especially during the latter half of Perón's first presidency. Unlike the right wing ideologies of Mussolini and Franco, Peronism relied heavily on unions and the working class.
    • Barreneche, Sebastián Moreno (2023). The Social Semiotics of Populism. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-3502-0541-3. In the case of Menem, this is particularly interesting because of his affiliation to Peronism, a left-wing political movement that originates in the politics of Perón (Grimson, 2019).
    • Barrett, Patrick; Chavez, Daniel; Rodríguez-Garavito, César (2008). The New Latin American Left: Utopia Reborn. Pluto Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780745326771. The nationalist, or popular left, which included such figures as Juan Domingo Perón (in Argentina), Getulio Vargas (in Brazil) and Lázaro Cárdenas (in Mexico).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Peronist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
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  5. ^ a b Gansley-Ortiz, Antonio Luis (2018). "Perón and the Argentine Paradox: An Investigation into an Economic Mystery". Senior Projects. Bard Digital Commons. 306: 25. Regardless, Peronism is universally agreed upon to be a left wing populism which tends towards the authoritarian, especially during the latter half of Perón's first presidency. Unlike the right wing ideologies of Mussolini and Franco, Peronism relied heavily on unions and the working class.
  6. ^ a b Hayes, Paul (1973). Fascism. London: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-0-04-320090-2. OCLC 862679.
  7. ^ a b c d e Brennan, James P. Peronism and Argentina. Rowman & Littlefield. 1998.
  8. ^ Montes de Oca, Ignacio (2018). El fascismo argentino - La matriz autoritaria del peronismo (in Spanish). ISBN 9789500761680.
  9. ^ James P. Brennan (1998). Peronism and Argentina. Scholarly Resources Inc. p. 22. ISBN 0-8420-2706-8. One way to approach the problem might be to order the exist- ing interpretations of Peronism into a three-tiered scheme that would group two competing schools of interpretation linked to Peronism's own internal debate (that is, alternative interpretations coming from within the movement's ranks) with a third, an exogenous perspective. The latter corresponds to the thesis that Peronism is a variant of fascism, with all the negative connotations that such a categorization implies. The former two do not present such a one-dimensional interpretation, as within each there is found a polemic, alternately recriminatory and approbative, sustained among Peronist, conservative, and socialist authors. These are the interpretations that on the one hand revolve around the concept of populism (at times National Populism), and on the other those interpretations that can be categorized as a form of Socialism (at times National Socialism), with revolutionary implications.
  10. ^ James, Daniel (1988). Resistance and integration: Peronism and the Argentine working class, 1946-1976. Cambridge University Press. p. 241. ISBN 0-521-46682-2.
  11. ^ James P. Brennan (1998). Peronism and Argentina. Scholarly Resources Inc. p. 28. ISBN 0-8420-2706-8.
  12. ^ Hodges, Donald (1991). Argentina's "Dirty War": An Intellectual Biography. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-292-77689-0. Consequently, Peron settled for the term "justicialism." The odds clearly favored his Christian and humanist version of socialism.
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    Era otra expresión significativa que designaba a todos aquellos actores ubicados en la llamada derecha peronista; pero eso, en última instancia, fue más allá ya que también podía incluir a los sectores centristas o moderados del peronismo. Era ni más ni menos que su oponente por excelencia: la ortodoxia peronista.
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    No todas las organizaciones peronistas que fueron críticas con la izquierda pueden englobarse dentro de la derecha, como es el caso de Guardia de Hierro, que luego se convirtió en la Organización Única de Traspaso Generacional (OUTG). Teniendo en cuenta el trabajo realizado sobre esta organización por Tarruella (2005), Anchou y Bartoletti (2008) y Cucchetti (2010), entre otros, sería pertinente situarla en el centro político, a una distancia más o menos equidistante (según el momento) de la derecha y la izquierda del peronismo. En este caso sería más adecuado ubicarlos dentro del campo del peronismo ortodoxo pero no de la derecha.
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  116. ^ Copello, David (2020). "Mapping the Argentine New Left: Social Liberation, National Liberation, and Revolutionary Violence, 1969–1977". Latin American Perspectives. 47 (5): 179–198. doi:10.1177/0094582X20939101.
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  118. ^ Gillespie, Richard (1982). Soldiers of Peron: Argentina's Montoneros. Oxford University Press. pp. 55–57. ISBN 0-19-821131-7.
  119. ^ Eatwell, Roger (1999). Contemporary Political Ideologies. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-8264-5173-6.
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  130. ^ Mudde, Cas; Rovira Kaltwasser, Cristóbal (2011). "Voices of the Peoples: Populism in Europe and Latin America Compared". Kellogg Working Paper (378): 24.
  131. ^ Baily, Samuel [in Spanish] (1967). Labor, Nationalism and Politics. p. 81.
  132. ^ Laclau, Ernesto (1973). "Argentina: Peronism and Revolution". Latin American Review of Books. 1: 117–130.
  133. ^ F. Harding, Timothy; A. Spalding, Hobart (1976). "The Struggle Sharpens: Workers, Imperialism and the State in Latin America, Common Themes and New Directions". Latin American Perspectives. 3 (1): 5.
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  135. ^ Murmis, Miguel; Portantiero, Juan Carlos [in Spanish] (1971). El movimiento obrero en los origenes del peronismo (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Editores. p. 73. ISBN 978-987-629-159-0.
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  144. ^ Gaggero, Manuel Justo. "El general en su laberinto". Pagina/12. 19 February 2007.
  145. ^ Cormier, Bill (29 April 2003). "Peronist rivals face election runoff". The Guardian.
  146. ^ "CNN - Menem quits Argentine presidential race - May. 14, 2003". CNN.


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