Saenz Pena law
The Saenz Pena law or the General Elections Law 8,871, was an innovative and progressive law that imposed secret and compulsory voting with the use of electoral rolls in the Argentine Republic. This affected Argentine citizens, natives or naturalized and over 18 years of age.
Said law was enacted on February 10, 1912, and promulgated on February 13 of that same year, by the Argentine Congress. Its name is in honor of the president who promoted it, the Argentine lawyer and politician Roque Sáenz Peña (1851-1914).
At that time, the power of the government was concentrated in the oligarchy and was managed by the upper classes of the country. This law marked a change in the established forms in electoral matters and allowed the other parties the possibility of governing and participating in Argentine politics.
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The objective of the law was to eradicate all fraudulent practices in electoral matters, which had allowed the permanence of oligarchic governments since 1862 and excluded the other inhabitants from most political and economic decisions.
In addition, the Saenz Pena law sought to combat the use of coercion, threats and vote buying, a system of corruption that had prevailed until then in the Argentine Republic.
Causes and consequences
The main causes for the sanction were the following:
- The tiredness of the people due to hegemony and fraud through suffrage.
- The permanence of the aristocratic class in power , excluding the popular or minority classes from politics.
- Threats and intimidation suffered by voters in public elections.
- The full list method , where the political force with the highest number of votes kept all the positions, leaving minority groups out of the political sphere.
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The main consequences were the following:
- The incorporation of the universal, secret and compulsory vote for all men over 18 years of age.
- The inclusion of minorities in the political sphere , turning these into parties that managed the masses and directed their actions to resolve social and economic demands.
- The threats against the citizen were put to an end , stating that their will could not be subjected to pressure or coercion by the power of the political parties.
- The concept of full democracy was consolidated and strengthened , achieving an active participation of citizens in solving collective problems.