1994 reform of the Argentine Constitution

1994 reform of the Argentine Constitution

The 1994 reform to the Argentine Constitution was approved on 22 August, as a result of the Olivos Pact between by that time president of Argentina Carlos Saúl Menem, and the former president and leader of the opposition Raúl Alfonsín.


On August 22, after three months of deliberations in the cities of Paraná and Santa Fe (traditional seat of constitutional conventions), the reform of 43 articles was finally approved. The deliberations did not end without altercations; for instance, Monsignor Jaime de Nevares resigned to his seat claiming the convention to be "vitiated with absolute nullity".

Main points

Menem's main point of the reform was to allow a president to govern for two consecutive mandates. A similar modification was done in the 1949 Argentine Constitution Reform that allowed Juan Domingo Perón to stay in the presidential seat for two consecutive terms, but the reform was derogated with the 1957 reform.

Even though the reform changed the length of each term to 4 years instead of 6, what would invalidate Menem as a candidate for the following elections after 6 years of mandate, he not only obtained the faculty of presenting for the 1995 elections, but succeeded in being re-elected.

Among the most important points of the reform are:

*The length of the presidential term was shortened from six to four years.
*The reelection of the president and the vice-president was allowed (only two consecutive terms).
*The requirement for the president to be a Roman Catholic was removed.
*The terms of senators were also shortened, from nine to six years.
*The electoral system, formerly an indirect vote (as in the United States) became a direct election, with a ballotage system.
*The capital, Buenos Aires, was given the special status of Autonomous City ("Ciudad Autónoma").

Other specific provisions

In order to provide an effective protection to individual rights, the 1994 amendment has introduced actions called: "amparo" (injunctions), "hábeas corpus" and "hábeas data". "Amparo" gives the possibility to any person to request that a judge declare the unconstitutionality of an act or ruling on which an action or omission of public authorities or private individuals is based that, in an actual or imminent manner, causes damage or restrains a right recognized by the Constitution, the law or an international treaty. This action requires that no other effective judicial mean be available. "Hábeas corpus" is an action that can be filled to protect the right of physical freedom when it is threatened, limited, modified or injured, or in case of illegitimate aggravation of conditions of detention. "Hábeas data" is an action that can be filled by any individual to take notice of any information referred to him, registered in public or private registers, and to request its suppression, rectification, confidentiality or updating.

Another innovation introduced by the 1994 amendment is that citizens can introduce bills before the House of Deputies that must be considered by Congress within the next twelve months. We must also mention the recognition of the right of every inhabitant to a healthy environment in article 41 that establishes that "all inhabitants are entitled to the right to a healthy and balanced environment fit for human development in order that productive activities shall meet present needs without endangering those of future generations; and shall have the duty to preserve it. As a first priority, environmental damage shall bring about the obligation to repair it according to law. The authorities shall provide for the protection of this right, the rational use of natural resources, the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage and of the biological diversity, and shall also provide for environmental information and education. The Federal Government shall regulate the minimum protection standard, and the provinces those necessary to reinforce them, without altering their local jurisdictions. The entry into the national territory of present or potential dangerous wastes, and of radioactive ones, is forbidden". From another point of view there are precise provisions referring to: protection of consumers rights, defense of competitions, control of natural or legal monopolies and of public services quality and efficiency. [From the fuller article; see this article's talk page.]


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