Argentina is a constitutional republic and representative democracy. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the Constitution of Argentina, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. The seat of government is the city of Buenos Aires, such location is regulated by the Congress. Suffrage is universal, equal, secret and mandatory.
The national government is composed of three branches:
- Legislative: The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government.
- Executive: The president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law, and appoints the members of the Cabinet and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
- Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find unconstitutional.
The Chamber of Deputies has 257 voting members, each representing a province for a four-year term. Seats are apportioned among the provinces by population every tenth year. As of 2012, ten provinces have just five deputies, while the Buenos Aires Province, the most populous province, has 70. The Senate has 72 members with each province having three senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every other year. A third of the candidates presented by the parties must be women. The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office no more than twice in a row. The president is elected by direct vote. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Supreme Court has seven members appointed by the President in consultation with the Senate. The judges of all the other courts are appointed by the Council of Magistrates of the Nation, a secretariat composed of representatives of judges, lawyers, the Congress and the executive.
The provincial governments must be representative republics and may not contradict the national constitution and national laws, but beyond that, each province is allowed to have its own constitution and organize their local government as desired. For example, some provinces have bicameral provincial legislatures, while others have unicameral ones. Buenos Aires is not a province but a federal district, but its local organization has similarities with the provinces: it has a local constitution, an elected mayor and representatives to the Senate and the Chamber of deputies. The national government reserved control of the Argentine Federal Police (the federally administered city force), the Port of Buenos Aires, and other faculties, however.
On 1 November 2012, the voting age was lowered from 18 to 16. Voting is compulsory for Argentineans between 18 and 70, but voluntary for 16 and 17-year-olds under the new law.
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