Matthew B. Karush and Oscar Chamosa
As we write this introductory essay, current events in Argentina have
revealed yet again the enduring relevance of Peronism. On 10 December
2007 Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was sworn in as Argentina’s thirty-
fourth constitutional president, the second woman to occupy that office
and the seventh Peronist. Returns from the previous October’s general
election show that Fernández’s ticket lost in high- and middle-income
urban districts, secured a strong advantage in the industrial belt and
secondary cities, and won by a landslide in small towns and rural com-
munities across the country. Despite Argentina’s pronounced political
instability over the last sixty years, these results suggest that underlying
patterns of electoral preference have remained remarkably stable.∞ Pero-
nism’s most recent resurgence indicates that the movement is much
more than the cynical electoral machine dismissed by many political
analysts during the 1990s, when Carlos Menem engineered the party’s
embrace of neoliberalism. Not only has Peronism retained its electoral
power, but many of its central images and rhetorical moves remain
staples of political discourse. Throughout the winter of 2008 a conflict
between the government and the agricultural sector dragged on for four
months, producing massive street demonstrations, roadblocks, strikes,
lockouts, and angry debates in the press and the National Congress.
President Fernández denounced farmers who opposed her government’s
increase in the export tax as greedy enemies of the poor, while her pro-
farmer foes charged her with trampling on democratic institutions. The
verbal virulence of both camps shocked the country with words that
seemed to have been taken directly from the political playbook of 1945.
Of course historians hardly needed current events to remind them of
Peronism’s significance. Virtually all accounts of Argentina’s modern his-
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