Elecciones y prácticas electorales en Tucumán-Argentina 1870-1880*
María Celia Bravo
Universidad Nacional de Tucumán-Argentina
Research and innovation article
El objetivo de este artículo es analizar la normativa institucional y la dinámica política de la provincia de Tucumán (Argentina) durante la década de 1870, en el marco de las tensiones derivadas de la conformación del Estado argentino. El artículo está centrado en el análisis de las prácticas electorales de los clubes y comités de la provincia de Tucumán y sus relaciones “hacia abajo” con los sectores populares, lo que no implica desconocer el rol central que desempeñó el Estado provincial y nacional, no sólo como productor de la normativa electoral, sino también como actor que participaba activamente en las elecciones. Otro aspecto del trabajo explora el funcionamiento de los clubes y comités y sus relaciones con los sectores populares, que generalmente se verificaron de arriba hacia abajo, a través de intermediarios (capataces, jueces y comisarios de campaña), en una relación que la historiografía política ha calificado como pasiva y cuyo principal propósito era mejorar la eficacia de las redes clientelares construidas. Estos aspectos nos permiten apreciar cómo en 1870 la incorporación de la dirigencia de la provincia de Tucumán a un orden político nacional permitió configurar una dinámica de estabilidad institucional, fundada en el respeto de las normas constitucionales que constituyeron la fuente principal de legitimidad del sistema.
Palabras clave: Elecciones, prácticas electorales, Estado, elites políticas, redes familiares, Provincia de Tucumán.
Elections and electoral practices in Tucumán-Argentina 1870-1880
The objective of this study is to analyze the institutional normativity and political dynamics of the province of Tucumán (Argentina) during the decade of 1870, in the context of the tensions derived from the formation of the Argentine State. This study in the field of political history is centered on the analysis of the electoral practices of clubs and committees in the province of Tucumán and their “condescending” relations with working class sectors; without ignoring the central role achieved by the provincial and national state as the producer of electoral normativity, as well as being a principal actor in the elections. Another aspect of the work involves exploring the functioning of the clubs and committees and their relation with working class sectors, which were generally verified from a “top to bottom” perspective, through intermediaries (overseers, judges and campaign managers) in a relationship that political historiography has identified as passive, and whose principal goal was improving the efficacy of previously constructed networks of patronage. These elements allow an appreciation of the way in which in 1870, the incorporation of the leadership of the province of Tucuman into the national political order allowed for the configuration of a dynamic of institutional stability, founded on respect for constitutional norms that constituted the system´s main source of legitimacy.
Key words: elections, electoral practices, state, elite politics, family networks, Province of Tucumán.
Elections et pratiques électorales à Tucumán – Argentina 1870-1880
L’objectif de cet article est d’analyser les normes et les processus politiques de la province de Tucumán (Argentine) pendant la décennie 1870, dans le cadre des tensions découlant de la conformation de l’État argentin. L’article est axé sur l’analyse des pratiques électorales des clubs et des comités de la province de Tucumán, ainsi que sur les relations que ceux-ci entretenaient avec les secteurs populaires, ce qui n’implique pas la méconnaissance du rôle central qui a joué l’État provincial et national, non seulement comme producteur des règlements électoraux, mais aussi comme acteur dynamique des élections. Un autre aspect du travail consiste à explorer le fonctionnement des clubs et des comités et leurs relations avec les secteurs populaires à travers des intermédiaires (contremaîtres, juges et commissaires de campagne), dans une relation qualifié par l’historiographie politique comme passive et dont le principal objectif était d’améliorer l'efficacité des réseaux clientélaires. Ces aspects nous permettent d’apprécier comment l’intégration des dirigeants de la province de Tucumán à l’ordre politique national en 1870, a permis un équilibre institutionnel, fondé sur le respect des normes constitutionnelles qui constituaient la principale source de légitimité du système.
Mots clés: élections, pratiques électorales, Etat, élites politiques, réseaux familiaux, province de Tucumán.
This paper aims to analyze the institutional norms and political dynamics of the province of Tucumán (Argentina) during the 1870s, in the context of the tensions arising from the formation of the Argentine State. This process modified the attributions of a national character that the provinces exerted during the first decades of the 19th century due to the absence of a central state. Its foundation in 1853 implied the reformulation of the bases of power of the provincial elites, whose orbits of incumbency were limited with the presence of the national government. However, this rearrangement was neither progressive nor linear, it was marked by revolutions and armed confrontations that threatened the disintegration of the political community in formation. Thus, national organization was a complex and progressive task that proposed the unity of a large territory, with embryonic national institutions, but linked to mercantile flows that were reinforced with the development of the rail network that contributed to the formation of a unified market.
This enterprise was developed on several fronts (political, military and economic), and it had as a preliminary and decisive instance the sanction of the National Constitution of 1853, which provided the key to solving the governance dilemma by adopting a mixed system that reconciled the expressed federal principle in the Senate - which integrated the provinces as political bodies in equality - with the unitary principle, represented substantially by the National Executive Power, endowed in the constitutional document with military force, institutional procedures and economic resources to ensure constitutional order, the functioning of institutions and the development of national economic enterprises. However, by 1870 the power of the president was not yet effective because it lacked a territorial base of its own and, although it was given the command of the army and navy, the governors maintained control of the militias of the provinces, an attribute that affected the intended monopoly of the coercive faculty. Simultaneously, the progressive strengthening of the structure of the central state with the expansion of the administration, the telegraph and the railroad provided the president with more effective power to intervene as a referee in local conflicts in a context of the growing intertwining of provincial politics with national politics.
In that sense, the work focuses on the analysis of the electoral practices of the clubs and committees of the province of Tucumán and their relations "downward" with the popular sectors. This does not imply ignoring the central role played by the provincial and national state, not only as a producer of the electoral rules, but as one more actor who participated actively in the elections. Despite frequent challenges to the procedures used by those who enjoyed the "official situation" and by opponents, elections constituted the unavoidable means of gaining access to political power, since the legality of the republican system depended on its substantiation. Throughout this decade there is a discrepancy between the animation and dispute that is reflected in the political press and in private correspondence, with the calm and routine image of the electoral act that the minutes convey. It could be thought that this modality had succeeded in suppressing any margin of uncertainty and conflict when it was found that one of the peculiarities of the suffrage in the province of Tucumán during the 1870s was the absence of electoral competition. Usually, the electoral act was submitted by postulating the exact number of candidates for vacant positions.
However, control of the electoral situation did not mitigate the tough struggle for elected positions, nor did it avoid dismemberments in the constellation of government that affected the solidity of the government. On the contrary, the situations of electoral competition that were introduced in the province with the policy of "conciliation" promoted by President Avellaneda did not attenuate the conflict of the political system which was projected to the governability and the harmonious functioning of the powers of the state.
The struggle for nominations involved clubs and committees, the political press, family networks, whose work is reflected in the private sphere of correspondence, the national and provincial government through prominent and subordinate officials and, by the end of this decade, an area of participation was formalized for a segment of the popular sectors. The diversity of actors outlined the different scenarios that helped to resolve the potential candidates. The sounding board of this unstable electoral system was the provincial legislature, where the disintegration of the working groups that reflected the uncertainties generated by the struggles of candidacies was verified, as well as the ephemeral "balances" reached by the different family networks that animated the clubs and committees. The factor that allowed the viability of a political system characterized by the conflict was the consensus of the provincial political groups to maintain an acceptable dose of institutional functioning so as to avoid national interventions, an attribution that could be adopted by the president or the national congress - and wielded as a threat - to the distortion of the republican system, which was frequently expressed in the open confrontation of the provincial legislature with the governor.
Another aspect of the work consists of exploring the functioning of the clubs and committees and their relations with the popular sectors, which were generally verified from the top down, through intermediaries (foremen, judges and campaign commissars), in a relationship that political historiography has described as passive and whose main purpose was to improve the efficiency of the constructed clientele networks. Towards 1878, in the urban area, clubs of artisans -added to political clubs- were formed, which did not necessarily comply with docility with the dictates of the elite. Although this had stimulated the creation of these spaces of political tutelage; through them, the "chiripa people" began to become involved in the logic of factious politics, taking advantage of the favorable conjunctures to obtain some participation and a greater margin of negotiation.
2. The political system in Tucumán: family networks, government and elections
Unlike the national constitution that promoted the presidential system as a guarantee of stability and institutional solidity, Tucuman's constitution of 1856 - like that of other provinces of the Argentinean northwest - granted broad powers to the chamber of representatives or provincial legislature. It consisted of a single chamber of 22 deputies whose terms lasted two years and were renewed every half each year. In addition to their legislative functions, they elected the governor of the province, together with an electoral college constituted by an equal number of voters. The chamber also elected the national senators, the interim governor, presented a list to the executive in order to appoint the members of the court of justice which made up the judicial branch, and, together with the governor, appointed the colonels of the provincial militias. The executive branch was composed of the governor and the general minister in charge. The mandate of the first official lasted two years and it was made explicit that he could not be re-elected except after two legal periods. He enacted and regulated the laws, convened the legislature, served as chief of administration and provincial militias by appointing officers to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He could name and remove the minister of government.
The political system gave pre-eminence to the chamber of representatives which elected the members of the other branches in the province. While the legislators were elected by direct vote and could be re-elected indefinitely, the governor was indirectly voted through the electoral college, his term of office was similar to that of the deputies, but he could not be reelected immediately. This norm gave centrality and continuity to the legislative sphere, considered to be the area in which the popular will was expressed. This collection, motivated by the broad powers of the governors during the period of the Rosista Confederation, sought to limit the power of provincial executives and designed an oligarchic system that make the construction of leadership difficult and imposed a complex and constant negotiation upon the different groups that made up the local elite, whose inclination for factious politics was a source of instability. Elected positions were limited to those who met the requirements of the possession of "fortune, profession or industry", thus ensuring the exercise of government to the most concentrated segment of the landowner sectors.
The legitimacy of the political system was based on the different modalities of the elections, regulated according to the Alberdian formula that celebrated the sovereignty of reason as opposed to that of numbers, a conviction rooted in the provincial elite as regards the "barbaric" nature of the popular sectors. It was advanced in that direction in order to strip suffrage of its competitive characteristics without altering its primary function of being the "source of legality" of the institutional structure. Alberdi had clearly stated this purpose: "The electoral system is the key to representative government. To choose is to discern and deliberate. Ignorance does not discern, it seeks a tribune and takes a tyrant. Misery does not deliberate, it sells. To remove the suffrage from the hands of the ignorant and the destitution is to assure the purity and the success of its exercise". From these foundations emerged a normatively open electoral system, but which in practice was limited to an active electoral agent. In this way, the vote was dissociated from the factor of uncertainty, since its exercise was supervised by the directing committees of the clubs that designated those responsible for organizing the attendance at the elections.
The level of electoral participation in Tucumán was in line with national levels, ranging from 10% to 15% of the eligible population. Between 1870-1878, the average annual number of votes cast in deputy and provincial elections was 2,293, representing 11.3 per cent of the men eligible to vote. However, the electoral volume fluctuated greatly. In the elections of 1870 for provincial deputies and electors, 4,025 people voted, while the following year only 1,971, approximately 9.7% of the population eligible to vote. When the number of voters was analysed by department, the oscillations were more pronounced: in 1870, in the Capital department, 1,061 people voted; but in the elections of the following year only 38 votes were registered, while during the rest of the decade the voter turnout was between 100 and 200 people at a time. In some departments, it was common to reiterate the call for elections due to the absence of election officials or voters.
One of the effects of the system was the low mobilization of voters, an issue that the political elite did not consider necessary to resolve, since the representation or strength of a political faction was not associated with the numerical criterion. It was considered that limited registration in civic registers contributed to mitigating the variable of violence in electoral contests, only occasionally the excluded factions denounced this trait as a "vice" of the system. As a result, the legitimacy of the candidates was not affected by the numerical factor, in no case was the validity of an election questioned on the basis of the low number of voters; the most serious disputes to the system were those arising from the inter- or intra-factional conflict that arose in the "privileged areas" of political action, the "committees" or clubs, where the candidacies were long debated.
There were no initiatives to modify the electoral regulations of 1826 which remained practically unchanged until 1884. The procedure of prior register was not established; therefore, the polling stations, composed of a president and four tally clerks, had the power to exclude on the basis of a list drawn up by the mayors of the neighbourhood, of those who were not entitled to vote in the section and to cancel votes to candidates who did not meet the required conditions.
Therefore, the legality of an election was not necessarily linked to popular support. For the elite, the triumph of suffrage was associated with the weight and effectiveness of the government and clientelist networks dependent on political groups. Thus, the main variable of access to political power was the proximity to government and membership of a family network whose social and economic pre-eminence in turn depended on a network of influences where control of the state apparatus and the exercise of politics were requirements. In evoking the lifestyle of the Tucuman elite of the 1870s, Vicente Gallo recalled: "For the cultured and representative society, politics was the dominant passion; it was the subject of conversations in social gatherings, in family visits, it was in short the great passion.”
The centrality of the chamber of representatives in the political system was adapted to the ideal of this "cultured and representative society" that demanded representation according to the economic and social power that each lineage exhibited. The indirect electoral system envisaged for key positions such as national senators and governors was in line with this scheme which valued the honorability and distinction of the notable people, while deploring the manipulation and coercion inherent in the practices prevailing in direct elections.
This perception was widespread in the political leadership of the province during the 1870s. It had left behind the political exclusiveness that the powerful Posse family held in the 1860s, when in the early 1870s it began to be challenged by other lineages displaced by their condition of being "federales" that had delegated in that clan the handling of the government and the direction of the interprovincial wars. Undoubtedly, the economic dynamism of the province, driven by a group of merchant exporters and accumulators that expanded the commercial circuits for local production, leather goods and the technological reconversion of the old sugar mills with modern steam-powered iron, must necessarily be manifested in the political sphere. These transformations generated displacements and promotions inside the elite and other families such as those of Méndez, López, García, Colombres, Teran, Alurralde, Avellaneda, Nougués, Padilla, Gramajo, and Paz began to dispute with the Posse family for the exclusive exercise of political power.
The movements and promotions in the composition of the political elite revealed a new hierarchy and an extension of the field of the political dispute, to the extent that new family networks such as the Colombres were incorporated, whose connections with the rosista regime had caused their exclusion in the decade of the 1860s; others, of an anti-rosista tradition, such as the Avellaneda family, were marginalized by the family casualties that occurred in the civil wars of the 1840s; in 1870 they had members capable of reintegrating the family into politics; new family networks such as the Nougués, recent immigrants, were incorporated into the electoral dispute as their economic situation and system of influence grew.
Such transformations generated a double rhetoric about the relationship between government and electoral bodies. In 1873, the newspaper La Razón, aligned with President Avellaneda, maintained that "electoral freedom is the exclusive patrimony of the people and the government has frankly declared the most absolute dispensation in elections." However, this principle was not supported by private correspondence. A year earlier Eudoro Avellaneda, brother of the presidential candidate, advised Governor Helguera as follows: "The government cannot manifest itself in these elections... I think it would be convenient for you to order the commanders to have their friends registered in the civic register, so that in the case of a struggle the government is not disarmed and without means of action." This double discourse indicated that the government had to guard against electoral instances that could be competitive, although in general the defeated faction in the formation of candidacies took the path of abstention, a practice that tended to be consolidated during the presidencies of Sarmiento and Avellaneda when the province became actively involved in national politics. The greater presence of the central state allowed the president to work on the conflictive relations of the provincial elites and to position itself as the arbiter of factional struggles.
Tucumán was a province where this objective was fulfilled. Integration with the national power scheme had the objective of consolidating the central state and strengthening presidential authority. In this context, the control of the provincial situations was of particular importance, while the national and provincial ruling circle was guaranteed continuity in the exercise of power. In 1873, Nicolás Avellaneda, then presidential candidate, wrote the following to the outgoing Tucumán governor, Federico Helguera: "The news of the appointment of Lopez for the government has just reached us. His administration has been useful because it has made possible the appointment of a friendly ruler to succeed him.”
The regional context also helped to enlist the entire Tucuman elite behind the presidential slogan. The threat posed by the military power of the Taboada clan in the neighboring province of Santiago del Estero, a family network that identified with the Mithrista faction in the national context and sought to build its hegemony in the region through armed incursions into the northern provinces (Tucumán, Catamarca, Salta and La Rioja) was an incentive to firmly penetrate the national scene.
The rise of Nicolás Avellaneda to the presidency marked the eclipse of the Posse clan as the dominant faction in the province of Tucumán, since the commitments with the candidacy of Alsina - sealed through Wenceslao Posse, a powerful member of the clan- brought about the rupture of this family network with a large part of the elite, inclined by the candidacy of the fellow citizen Avellaneda, a situation that brought economic reprisals to the Posse family. Another factor that consolidated the new system of national influences of the Tucuman elite was the failure of the Mitrista revolution of 1874, which accelerated the intervention of Santiago del Estero, with the consequent fall of Taboada and marked the entry of the province into the orbit of presidential power, under the direction of a new governor, Absalón Rojas. By that time, the arrival of the railroad to Tucumán, the development of the industry of spirits and sugars, and the commercial predominance that the province had in the Northern region, enhanced the political influence of the Tucuman elite on a national scale.
Sugar industrialization promoted new issues such as rail linkage, access to credit, tariff protection and the realization of certain infrastructure works, the concreteness of which was identified with provincial progress. Such demands accentuated the need to tune the provincial situation to national politics. In turn, the central government contributed - through skillful operators such as Avellaneda - to discipline the Tucuman elite by operating as a moderator in recurring factional disputes. In 1872 Avellaneda advised the governor Federico Helguera "be calm, one and bestow concord to friends. It takes patience and forgive the defects that cannot be suppressed." At the beginning of 1873, before the deepening of the conflict between family groups he reiterated:
The fractioning of the liberal party cannot but bring unfortunate consequences [...] I am sorry for your government that it required the participation of all to carry out a program, for the sterility in the administration that these divisions bring [...] Posse and Frías are very important men. Together they could have done a lot and today they are going to be harassed [...] I wrote to Posse in the same sense and you should not fail to work to see if a conciliation is possible.
On the same conflict, Jose Posse justified his position to President Sarmiento:
I know you're badly impressed by my disagreement with Frias and I want to give you an explanation so that you do not give me the worst part of it. You know all the esteem I have had for Frías. [...] Members of his family have gone to Congress for my own good and maintained provincial jobs because I have wanted it: all without reciprocity, [...] far from that, they have made me raw war all their lives [...] Unfortunately, so that the rupture could not be soldered, these days the election of national deputies to the Congress occurs, Frías presenting his candidature. My friends and relatives went out to meet it [...] What should I do? I put myself on the side of my people, just as Frías had taken his side. Defeat was to bring anger and so things have remained[...] But I will tell you in conclusion, that this accident has no influence on politics, nor on the course we take.
The factional dynamics grew when a family network considered the "criterion of reciprocity" that governed political exchanges and traffic in influences to be violated. The triggers were multiple since they were not always reduced to the dispute for posts and positions; the insults, the verbal provocations or those launched through the press, generated hatred and enmity that was difficult to overcome. These divisions opened a gap for other candidacies to enter. The solution of the conflict mentioned was to allow Delfín Gallo access to the National Congress, postulated by a group of young elites who sought to evade the subordinate positions reserved for them by dominant circles. This unforeseen victory struck, according to Groussac, like "a gunshot in a church"; the general minister, Sixto Teran, cousin of Gallo, had to leave the portfolio and Groussac his position in the management of the official newspaper. This type of episode was overcome by the role of the governor to harmonize the political representation of each family network in function of their respective flows of influence and by the constant pressure of the national government that acceded to the demands of the elite in return for a peaceful resolution of factious conflicts.
Analyzing the composition of the legislature in the 1870s shows that members of influential families systematically occupied seats in the chamber of representatives and acted as electors of the governor. The three brothers Padilla (Angel, Tiburcio and José) -decided supporters of the presidents Sarmiento, Avellaneda and Roca- simultaneously occupied a bench in the provincial legislature. One of them, Tiburcio was governor during the period 1875-1877. The case of the Lopez family is similar: Tiburcio, Rudecindo and Belisario were provincial deputies and electors, the last occupying the government between 1874-1875. The Frías brothers, Uladislao and Justinian occupied prominent positions: the first was governor between 1870-1871, while the second was provincial deputy from 1871 to 1875, performing in the following five-year period as an elector of the governor. Similar patterns are repeated in the case of the family Terán, Colombres, Alurralde and Nougués.
To recapitulate, the key to governance was to incorporate the different family networks, according to the proximity to the government and according to their influence. This modality required consensus in the nomination of candidates. Having overcome the phase of the struggle for influence between the different family networks, the exact number of candidates for the vacant elective positions was agreed upon. During 1870-1880, the national and provincial elections records show that a single candidate was generally presented. In the departments of Capital, Monteros and Rio Chico there were only two elections of provincial deputies disputed in a period of 10 years; in other departments like Trancas there was no plurality of candidates; an atypical case was the department of Famaillá with 6 elections where more than one candidate was presented; nevertheless, only in 1878 was there a real competition when the different candidates obtained an equal percentage of votes. At that time, the election had members of the same political line as protagonists, that of unionism.
In the 1870s, the alignment with national powers, combined with the weakening of Mitrismo in the local elite and with the decline of the Posse family as a dominant political and clientelist network, allowed the incorporation of new family factions that exhibited political rivalry in the local sphere, but it did not, as in the past, violate the limits of formal legality, as the election results were respected as the exclusive form of access to political power. This basic governance agreement constituted a demand of the national power that used a variety of possible resources - works, subsidies, warnings - to discipline the whole of the provincial elite and end the conflictive situations.
The consistency of this scheme of operation was put to the test with the conciliation of 1877, proposed by the president Avellaneda, that introduced a new factor of conflict when incorporating sectors attached to Mitrismo to the provincial power. From then on, the political dynamic intensified in the sphere of the clubs and committees.
3. Clubs, practices and participation of the popular sectors
After Pavón, the victorious elite gathered around Club Libertad. It was a highly personalized faction, articulated around the Posse family which founded its leadership on the identification with the "liberal cause" and the harassment of the groups that had identified with the urquicista policy. Their actions were guided by a vocation of exclusivity, while they sought to occupy the largest number of official positions based on their interests and inclinations. The presidential election of 1868 and the armed incursion of the Taboadas in Tucumán to impose the mitrista candidacy of Elizalde, provoked the temporary exile of the Posse family that returned to the province during the governorship of Belisario López, who relocated the province in the presidential orbit.
By then, the Libertad Club had been dissolved and the province's elite identified with a new organization, the Sarmiento club, with undefined contours, but integrating sections of the elite not identified with mitrismo. The official newspaper, La Razón, was the name with which the Avellaneda families were identified after 1872. This new political club functioned according to certain political premises that were considered indispensable to founding a decade of institutional stability: alternation of the main political networks in the direction of the provincial state, respect for the legal channels, use of the state apparatus so that the election would unfold without major upheavals.
The conciliation of 1877, decided by President Avellaneda to mitigate the threat of mitrismo in the province of Buenos Aires, encouraged the provincial political panorama by incorporating sectors related to mitrismo to electoral dynamics. From then on, two political clubs were outlined: the "Union" club of official character that ended up accepting - with reservations - the conciliation of Avellaneda, and the "Nationalist" club identified with Mitre; later a third organization was formed, the Monteagudo club, made up of sectors of the youth related to nationalism.
These electoral organizations were led by a steering committee, composed of a president, two vice-presidents, two secretaries, a treasurer and members, which comprised a body of approximately 50 members; naturally, they were made up of the most influential people in each faction: each of the names exhibited the strength and importance of the "party". According to the press, the governing committees of the clubs should be chosen carefully, because "we must look for in these directing committees of the clubs that the parties choose among the most powerful of their members to put them (sic) before the eyes of their fellow citizens as the incarnation, as the symbol, as the most genuine (sic) manifestation of its power." What was the variable that measured such displays of power? Client capacity measured in terms of labor dependency. In this regard, the article commented "we will calculate the hundreds of citizens who work in the establishments of these gentlemen and are those which in our country are called 'elements' for an election.”
However, the presence of a constituted opposition revitalized the political dynamics increasingly articulated with national tendencies and outlined the formation of a "partisan" political discourse that sought to identify organizations with principles and presented their differences as dissociated issues from the interests of family networks, although political practice continued to be based on the positions that should be occupied by notable people according to the agreements and influence of the lineage.
Through the press the principles and values sustained by each club were set out. The "Unionists" presented themselves as zealous custodians of legality - threatened by the Mitristas with the revolution of 1874 that had altered the peace and the republican institutions - of the "national government, of the law, the institutions and of the respect and estimation of the neighboring governments". In turn, the nationalists responded by censoring a legality based on "electorate governments" and considered that "the right to revolution, was prior and superior to any law to combat and ground the tyrants ... say what you will, conspiracies have their reason to be under the pressure of a despotic regime.”
With the incorporation of nationalism into the political system, the difficulty arose of establishing an agreement in all the departments and it marked the beginning of a stage of electoral competition. The compromise consisted of the commitment to develop mixed lists. Thus, each club - Nationalist and Union - corresponded to half of the positions; each organization would choose its candidates with absolute autonomy; in the case of odd positions, a committee was formed consisting of three members from each club to designate the remaining candidate and, in the event of a failure to reach an agreement, the "party" that was to fill the vacancy would be determined by chance. The integration of a commission composed of five members per club was also resolved to direct the electoral campaigns. However, it was not possible to make a single list in all departments, in Monteros and Rio Chico the elections for provincial deputies were disputed; a situation that agitated the electoral campaigns marking the beginning of competitive politics in key electoral areas.
The agreement consolidated the figure of the clubs as privileged areas of political action. Their main function was to articulate the interests of the different factions of the elite, to regulate relations with the national and provincial government, and to maintain channels of communication with the subordinate sectors. Potential candidates were discussed in this area until a consensus was reached on a single nomination; electoral campaigns were supervised and those responsible for mobilizing them were designated in the different departments; the opposing faction was negotiated with, designating special liaison commissions.
The electoral competition forced the different clubs to broaden their militant base by extending their relations "down" to the popular sectors. In the campaign, these actions were verified through intermediaries, commissioners, justices of the peace, campaign commanders who exchanged their influence in favor of the official situation. In this sense, it is interesting to note that clientelism derived from labor dependency was not always transferred to the political level since, until the emergence of the modern sugar industry, clientelist networks that concentrated more dependents were centered around nationalism. However, during the analyzed period the unionists controlled the official situation, invariably designating the governors.
In sectors of the elite there was rooted an image of popular sectors as "passive instruments that vote without knowing why or what for, and we say passive instruments, whichever party triumphs." However, there were clear indications of popular behavior guided by a perception of their interests regarding specific issues, such as taxes. In this regard, the press severely attacked those who "have sought to seduce artisans by preaching the abolition of taxes, as an effective means to gain hirelings," and also censured those who "inciting artisans with the incentive to giving them a saber to humiliate educated people ." Towards the end of the decade, in 1879 Domingo Martínez Muñecas, Governor of Tucumán, wrote: "The local parties continue with their anarchist propaganda, the means they have touched upon are as follows: 1st that taxes were the work of the government to ruin the artisans , 2nd that the government belonged to the Posse family. Such were the motives that they used to search for proselytes.”
In private correspondence, the elite's fear of the mobilization of the common people was expressed, which although monitored, could be set in motion guided by social demands. Although mechanisms of indirect democracy and passive voting had been instituted to correct deviations of popular participation, popular elements were known to be a key factor in winning direct elections. In 1878 Emilio Carmona wrote to former governor Federico Helguera "I do not think the Monteagudo club has enough elements to pretend to oppose conciliation alone. If the craftsmen's club seconded it then there will be real danger.”
These indications revealed the elite's fear of action not controlled by their group of popular sectors. The threat of the "mob" covered a variety of aspects that were not limited to the political plane but involved the censorship of their social behavior. During this decade. the government sanctioned a set of regulations tending to impose different types of restrictions: celebrations were suppressed throughout the provincial territory, except those of Easter and the national holidays; Mass attendees were forbidden to remain in the church atrium after the religious ceremony; cockfights were banned; the organists were expelled from the provincial territory by imposing high patents.
Such restrictions allow us to perceive the perceptions of the proprietary sectors, the political elite and the government regarding the danger that was attributed to the spaces of sociability of the popular sectors. In all respects, and of course, in the political sphere too, the excesses of the crowd and the potential inability of the elite to control it were feared. In electoral matters, the government was aware of the unguarded grouping of these popular sectors; messages of this tone are recurrent: "I have had knowledge that people of the band are coming to the elections, so I think it would be appropriate for the police to ban groups on horseback, because you cannot ignore what is the guacho when mounted.”
However, the logic of the system in demanding the expansion of voter support contributed to the controlled incorporation of the popular sectors. In the urban area, clubs of artisans attached to the different factions were organized, incorporating individuals with a trade or "profession", capable of assuring them an independent existence. The speech adopted exalted the economic, social and political role of their "profession", the honorability of their members and the pernicious effects of their exclusion from political practice: "the Tucuman artisan has been the armed soldier of the constitution in almost all battlefields; the first in the sacrifice, they were the last in the freedom. Always oppressed, dejected, persecuted, they came from despondency to dejection to disenchantment and fled in terror from public life. Hence that overwhelming indifference. The ballot boxes did not sound their voice, the elections were deserted. We have gained a space, filling that immense void left from the citizen's lack at the time of an election, when it was a question of renewing the leaders of the town. These are not mere hopes, more than 800 artisans of the best, the most respectable have come together to come and collaborate in the common work of our progress." This story claimed citizen status for the artisan acquired in the field of weapons in the past and demanded the peaceful and differentiated participation of the craftsman in the elections.
The artisan clubs elected delegates who joined the steering committees when it came to electing candidates for office. In 1878 unionism postulated with the participation of the delegate of the craftsmen's club, Nicanor Agüero, Juan Bautista Alberdi and Lídoro Quinteros as national deputies. Thus, the electoral competition demanded an increase in the number of voters and the incorporation of the most respectable segment of the popular element, artisans, who joined politics by organizing a separate club whose designation was determined by the nature of their work. This modality of differentiated integration implied a mechanism of controlled participation, expressed in a subordinate relationship with the elite, a segment that had stimulated the creation of these spaces of political tutelage. Until then, the subordination of the popular element was manifested in the election of candidates outside their group to the extent that the candidates supported belonged to sectors of the provincial elite.
However, through this interstice that gave them a space in the discussion of the candidacies, the craftsmen demonstrated that they did not necessarily docilely comply with the dictates of the political leadership, when using the conflict within the elite to nominate a candidate of their club in the electoral college. In 1878 in the elections for elector of the Capital they did not arrive at an agreement to present a mixed list. At that time, the nationalists won who pushed for the craftsman Esteban Flores, whose list was imposed on that of Dr. Viaña, a notable person of the official circles supported by unionism. The newspaper chronicles reported the electoral process, as follows: "In the parish of La Matriz there were 300 and more votes, obtaining these 250 more or less. It was in vain that some members of the Union club were put in campaign to fight the new element that appeared in the opposition". The story concluded with the celebration of Flores, who celebrated the victory accompanied by a large number of artisans who made a spontaneous and noisy demonstration.
This episode could be interpreted as evidence of the insertion of nationalism among the urban artisans of San Miguel de Tucumán; however, it was also an indication of the solidarity of the sector, since, as the chronicles of the event related "the artisans set out to show their power and from the first moments of the struggle, it was easy to understand that they would achieve a splendid victory.”
As from a year before, the artisans of the municipality had formed an association of mutual aid that favored the cohesion of the group and neutralized the effects of the political division of the sector. This participation, although constrained to the parameters of the elite hegemony, opened a gap for autonomous actions. These episodes provide a more diverse panorama that does not correspond with the exclusionary "passivity" that the sectors of the elite and the traditional political historiography assigned to the popular sectors.
During the decade of 1870 the incorporation of the leadership of the province of Tucumán into a national political order allowed the configuration of a dynamic of institutional stability, based on respect for the constitutional norms that constituted the main source of the legitimacy of the system. The political order that emerged from this consensus was the inclusion and promotion of powerful family networks that were incorporated into politics on the basis of agreements endorsed by national powers and by the insistence of the national government. From this perspective, the vote could be understood as an instance that legalized an agreed choice in other areas where the influences of the lineages were determined. Thus, the notable profile of provincial political functioning was not based on the arithmetic notion of popular will reflected by the number of votes obtained; on the contrary, it privileged the lineage and values of honorability, which was opposed to the electoral option, a practice that in the eyes of the notables was impregnated with coercion and clientelist management.
This perception did not mitigate the conflict caused by the bidding for candidates and political positions expected among the powerful clans. In general, both the governor and the president functioned as arbiters who sought to restore the harmony lost by the factional struggles. The sounding board of these combats was the provincial legislature that chose senators and the governor, and the electoral clubs whose main nucleus was constituted by familiar clans. In the formation of the candidacies there was a complex system of influences that included secret meetings between notables, pressures of the national government and the decisions taken by the governor and his group. At the electoral level, the governor made use of government resources and used the justices of the peace and militia commanders to ensure the success of his candidates.
The conciliation implemented by President Avellaneda in 1877 failed to achieve the expected pacification. On the contrary, in the province it revitalized the political competition and raised the clubs to be the key actors of the electoral contest. At the same time, the reincorporation of Mitrismo to the political system gave a greater dynamism to the elections when more frequently disputed elections were substantiated. This new situation referred to the premise that the simple majority of votes, and not previous agreements between the elites, constituted the way to reproduce and legalize the political system. This new principle demanded the expansion of the vote and the incorporation of the popular sectors into political practice. Under the influence of this dynamic, the elite partially modified their long-held belief about the fatal inability of the "chiripa people" to reasonably discern in the electoral field and tempered fears about the political behavior of the popular sectors, driven by considerations of a social nature such as taxes.
Artisan clubs were organized as separate spaces and were subordinated to political clubs. These organizations adopted a rhetoric that sought to repair the stigmatized image of artisans forged by the provincial elite. These clubs were generally guided by the elite and voted for the conspicuous candidates nominated by the political leadership, although they did not always behave as a passive clientele, lacking initiative and participation. There were instances in which the sector achieved resounding triumphs, when it could use in its favor the space left by factional disputes within the elite. In this case it was possible to impose a craftsman candidate, appealing to the criteria of class solidarity. This new form of electoral participation reveals a new angle that gives greater density and complexity to the political practices in nineteenth-century Argentina.
Archivo Federico Helguera. (AFH). Carpeta I, Carta 19; Carpeta I, Carta 20; Carpeta I, Carta 23; Carpeta I, Carta 49; Carpeta I, carta 50; Carpeta I, carta 52; Carpeta I, Carta 55; Carpeta II, Carta 495, febrero 15, 1878; Carpeta II, Carta 784, enero 14, 1879; Carpeta II, f.461.
I Censo de la República Argentina, 1869. Buenos Aires: Imprenta El Porvenir, 1872.
“Carta de Nicolás Avellaneda al gobernador de Tucumán Federico Helguera”. Archivo Privado Federico Helguera (APFH), Carpeta I, Carta 73.
El Eco del Norte, enero 17, 1860; diciembre 30, 1860.
El Liberal, julio 19, 1866.
“Epistolario entre Sarmiento y Posse”. Archivo del Museo Histórico Sarmiento, Museo Histórico Sarmiento, T. I, Buenos Aires, 1946.
La Razón, enero 30, 1878; noviembre 7, 1877; octubre 7, 1873; Año II, Nº 121; junio 15,1873; septiembre 21, 1873.
“Manifiesto del Club Unión de Artesanos”, El Independiente, enero 6, 1878.
Museo Histórico Sarmiento, Epistolario entre Sarmiento y Posse, T. II. Buenos Aires, 1947.
Álvarez, Juan. Estudio sobre las guerras civiles argentinas. Buenos Aires, 1914.
Bethell, Leslie. Historia de América Latina, T. X. Barcelona: Ed. Crítica, 1992.
Borda, Lizondo. Historia de Tucumán. Siglo XIX. Tucumán, 1948.
Botana, Natalio. “El federalismo liberal en la Argentina, 1852-1930”. En: Carmagnani, Marcelo, Federalismos latinoamericanos: México, Brasil, Argentina. México: FCE-El Colegio de México, 1993.
_________. La tradición republicana y el Orden Conservador. Argentina: Editorial Sudamericana 1984.
Chiaramonte, José Carlos. Ciudades, Provincias, Estados: Orígenes de la Nación Argentina. Buenos Aires: Ariel Historia, 1997.
Gallo, Vicente. De la vida cívica argentina. Buenos Aires, 19419.
Groussac, Paul. Los que pasaban. Buenos Aires: CEAL, 1980.
Lettieri, Alberto. La conciliación de partidos de 1877. La dinámica política facciosa y sus límites. Mimmeo, 1989.
Navajas, María José. “Actores, representaciones, discursos y prácticas: la política en Tucumán, Argentina, 1852-1887”, (Tesis Doctoral inédita, El Colegio de México, 2008).
Oszlak, Oscar. La Formación del Estado Argentino. Buenos Aires: Ed. Belgrano, 1985.
To cite this article:
María Celia Bravo, “Elections and electoral practices in Tucumán-Argentina 1870-1880”, Historia y Memoria N°10 (January-June, 2015): 241-270.
* A preliminary version of this work is presented in the VI Interschool Conferences/ Departments of History in the Universidad Nacional de La Pampa, 1997. This version was co-authored with María José Navajas
 Doctor of History, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. Professor of Argentine History of the History Faculty of the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán UNT. Independent researcher of the CONICET. Lines of research: regional and social political history with emphasis in agricultural history, specifically of the Argentinian sugar agroindustry. Email address: email@example.com
 They could organize and lead armies, exercise patronage, impose transit laws upon goods, among other powers. Regarding the powers of the provinces during the preconstitutional stage, see José Carlos Chiaramonte, Ciudades, Provincias, Estados: Orígenes de la Nación Argentina (Buenos Aires: Ariel Historia, 1997).
 In 1876 the Central Córdoba railway united the Argentine north with the Argentine coast and the city of Buenos Aires, the main consumption market for its sugar production.
 Juan Álvarez, in his classic study on the civil wars, emphasized the role of the Senate as the "master key of the system," in its composition of two representatives per province – regardless of demographic and economic fluctuations – which assured the elites of the interior significant influence on the new state. Juan Álvarez, Estudio sobre las guerras civiles argentinas (Buenos Aires, 1914), 62. This perspective has been retaken by Natalio Botana, who attributes to the Senate the role of nexus between the federal government and the provinces. Natalio Botana “El federalismo liberal en la Argentina, 1852-1930”, in Marcelo Carmagnani, Federalismos latinoamericanos: México, Brasil, Argentina (México: FCE-El Colegio de México, 1993).
 On this point see Natalio Botana, La tradición republicana y el Orden Conservador, (Argentina, Editorial Sudamericana 1984).
 In 1880, after a bloody civil war the city of Buenos Aires managed to be federalised.
 A pejorative expression that alludes to the rustic and peasant clothing used by the men of the popular sectors.
 Cited in Natalio Botana, La tradición republicana…345.
 Unlike other regions of the country where there was a tradition of citizenship that extended to all free, natural or settled men; in Tucumán, the electoral regulations of 1826, which governed until the 1880s, limited the status of elector to every free man born or rooted in the province, of 20 years of age, with known property or with employment and a profitable profession. These clauses had been ratified in the constitutional draft of 1835, which established that citizenship rights were suspended by debtor status to individuals and to the state, by being a paid servant, peon, day laborer, simple soldier or notoriously idle. The preliminary draft of the Provincial Constitution of 1856 introduced a similar restriction in establishing that day laborers and children were excluded from the status of elector. The National Congress questioned this article, which had to be removed from the provincial text in order to comply with the provisions of the National Constitution. However, the Tucuman constitution retained the distinction between the passive and active electorate, and conditioned the access to certain offices to the exercise of a profession or trade or to the possession of properties that ensure an independent existence. Lizondo Borda, Historia de Tucumán. Siglo XIX (Tucumán, 1948), 63, 181,183.
 E. Gallo, “Política y Sociedad en Argentina, 1870-1916”, in Leslie Bethell, Historia de América Latina, T. X (Barcelona: Ed. Crítica, 1992), 56.
 In 1873 Nicolás Avellaneda when describing the electoral situation of Buenos Aires pointed out the following: “Nothing new here, affectation in some electoral circles, but the calm continues in general, as is shown in the scarce number of inscriptions in the Civil Register.” “Letter from Nicolás Avellaneda to the governor of Tucumán Federico Helguera”, Private archive of Federico Helguera, APFH, Carpeta I, Carta 73).
 In turn, the polling station came from a list of 15 candidates made by the judge that was put to the consideration of an electoral assembly that was held before the election; of these candidates 4 citizens were chosen as tally clerks, who were members of the polling station, presided over by the trial judge or justice of the peace of each parish. This procedure was the one stipulated for the city; in the campaign, the judge of each vice-parish chose 4 tally clerks, selecting citizens whose residence was near the place where the election was to be verified.
 In 1872 a notable provincial politician wrote to Governor Federico Helguera expressing his opinion on the legislative elections: "I have always thought that it is a utopia to think of completely free elections in Tucumán, because a free election supposes a people apt to choose, which among us does not exist”. APFH, Carpeta I, Carta 23.
 Vicente Gallo, De la vida cívica argentina (Buenos Aires, 19419, 10.
 The federal moniker was associated with ties with Rosismo, a regime directed by the governor of Buenos Aires, Juan Manuel de Rosas during 1835-1852.
 In 1873, when the authority of this vast family network began to be eclipsed, Jose Posse, a former governor and journalist, gave a detailed description and defense of his familial and political network: "The Posse family is one of the oldest in Tucumán and the most respected in the country and, at present, the one that has the greatest amount of accumulated wealth. Among the members of this family are the first industrialists of Tucumán. In addition to these large industrialists, the Posse family and its political allies have a considerable number of second-class sugar cane producers as political allies [...] which together represent a formidable capital. In commerce, they also have first-class merchants and strong capitalists. If these fortunes disappeared, the men who compose the Posse family and party, Tucumán would be ruined. Always in the vanguard of progress as industrialists, it is they who have raised agriculture [...] have been the first to import machines and adopt new procedures for the production of sugar and spirits [...] the Posse family and its allies provide lucrative employment for thousands of people in the sugar industry and encourage the development of others, such as tannery and the manufacture of sheepskin saddle blankets, buying annually large quantities of these to send to the coast ... They also have writers, lawyers, doctors, men of the state which have appeared in the press, in government and in parliaments. Here is what the Posse party is and represents." His opponents answered that claim in these terms: "It is a question of presenting the Posse and its followers as the only industrialists, landowners and merchants that the province has, the disappearance of which would ruin the industry and commerce of Tucumán[...] and what of the men of the Méndez, Zavalía, Colombres, Frías, Gallo, Molina, Nougués, Etchecopar, Padilla, López families and so many more? La Razón, October 7, 1873.
 La Razón, September 21, 1873.
 Archivo Federico Helguera, (AFH) Carpeta I, Carta 19.
 This process of the centralization of political functioning was achieved through a combination of consensus and coercion. The generous use of the military apparatus suddenly developed for the Paraguayan War, of provincial intervention as an extreme recourse and the establishment of the state of siege were instruments effectively used by the president. Cf Oscar Oszlak, La Formación del Estado Argentino (Buenos Aires: Ed. Belgrano, 1985).
 AFH, Carpeta I, Carta 55.
 In a letter addressed to President Sarmiento, Jose Posse advised: "a legal and easy way would be to end the power of the Taboada by disarming it at once, and to appoint Arredondo leader of the border of the Chaco and of the northern military circumscription. It seems to me that the national government would be in its right to hand over to a general of confidence the command of the forces that should serve him for the purpose of his government “Letter between Sarmiento and Posse” Archive of the Historic Sarmiento Museum, Museo Histórico Sarmiento, T. I, Bs As, 1946, 491.
 In 1873 the Posse family denounced the complicity of the government in a sabotage perpetrated on the Esperanza mill, belonging to W. Posse: "an armed party was sneaked into the field and caused a bloody conflict that has resulted in the death of some individuals, the imprisonment of the administrator and foremen of the hacienda, the dispersion of the peons who are threatened with sending them in the contingent and the loss of much of the harvest, the only object that was sought. What happened in Cruz Alta is nothing more than a manifestation of the rage that devours the candidate to the presidency, Dr. Avellaneda, to see Don W. Posse, the owner of the property, in the Alsinista committee of Buenos Aires " La Razón, October 7, 1873.
 The newspaper La Razón attributed to Avellaneda's candidacy the following meaning: "The provinces see in Dr. Avellaneda the personification of the true national interests, the continuation of the great advances made and the distinguished educator in charge of combating ignorance and backwardness in the whole republic. Not because General Miter or Dr. Alsina are affiliated with the political parties of Buenos Aires and raise their respective candidacies must the provinces accept them, if the triumph of one or the other may be disastrous for the country [...] At the same time, we fight the petty spirit of localism, to expand the national sentiment, which should only be found in the heart of the Argentines, we also want the provinces to have the dignity of their own autonomy. La Razón, Año II, Nº 121, June 15, 1873.
 APFH, Carpeta I, carta 50.
 APFH, Carpeta I, carta 52.
 Museo Histórico Sarmiento, Epistolario entre Sarmiento y Posse, T. II, (Buenos Aires, 1947), 352
 P. Groussac, Los que pasaban, (Buenos Aires: CEAL, 1980), 76-77.
About this episode Marco Avellaneda wrote to Helguera: "I feel this result for two reasons. 1st because in my opinion the triumph of Dr. Gallo is due almost exclusively to small passions, petty hatreds of circles and not to the support of public opinion. Is it not true that without the fight of the most influential men in the party, very few had thought about Gallo's candidacy? 2nd because although I have formed a good opinion of Gallo, I do not think he can admit any discussion of his candidacy in the presence of Dr. Frías, who is one of the most respectable men in our country for his long service. APFH, Carpeta I, Carta 20.
 Avellaneda reported to Helguera as follows: "I have authorized by decree the telegraph office of Monteros and agreed for another 1,000 pesos to be given to the Municipality for the work of its canal. Gramajo will receive that money. Frías [appointed by Minister of the Interior Sarmiento in compensation for his defeat in the elections] will immediately dispatch the proposals on the Bridge ... I will soon present a Bill regarding the construction of the Normal School. Thus, our Tucumán will have another great educational establishment." APFH, Carpeta I, Carta 49.
 On this topic, see María José Navajas, “Actores, representaciones, discursos y prácticas: la política en Tucumán, Argentina, 1852-1887”, (Unedited doctoral thesis, El Colegio de México, 2008).
 In most of the provincial situations the conciliatory proposal was a factor of conflict for the political system as it threatened the stability and continuity of the leading political nuclei. Alberto Lettieri, La conciliación de partidos de 1877. La dinámica política facciosa y sus límites (Mimmeo, 1989).
 One of the exceptions was the contest for national deputy which Delfín Gallo won.
 La Razón, November 7, 1877.
 La Razón, November 7, 1877.
 El Independiente, January 27, 1878.
 El Argentino, June 27, 1878.
 El Independiente, November 28, 1877.
 The formation of candidacies led to inevitable friction in the clubs, since the marginalized were not always willing to docilely accept the decisions of the group. Unionists and nationalists had desertions, some of them went on to crystallize into new organizations such as the Monteagudo Club, which grouped young elements split from nationalism; others remained as internal factions within unionism, for example, the "liberal" group that responded to the leadership of Lídoro Quinteros. There were occasions when candidates from the same political current came to compete in the election because there was no definitive consensus on those nominated to be provincial deputies.
 In this regard, an article published in the newspaper La Razón, which analyzed the labor hiring capacity boasted by the members of the board of directors of the respective clubs, was revealing. Looking at this apparent paradox - the unionists' victory in the elections - the press asked: "How do you explain that the most powerful, the strongest, those with the greatest elements are a submissive minority?" La Razón, November 7, 1877.
 El Liberal, July 19, 1866.
 El Eco del Norte, January 17, 1860.
 El Eco del Norte, December 30, 1860
 APFH, Carpeta II, Carta 784, 14.1.1879.
 APFH, Carpeta II, Carta 495, 15.2.1878.
 Of course, police regulations and edicts that compel the poor to work at the service of a patron should be taken into account.
 APFH, Carpeta II, f.461.
 In 1869, in San Miguel de Tucumán there were 419 carpenters, 246 masons, 126 tanners, 79 blacksmiths, 231 bakers and 215 tailors. An important percentage of these artisans did not work as employees in the 50 carpentries, 11 tanneries, 19 blacksmiths shops and 9 tailor shops that functioned in the city I Censo de la República Argentina, 1869 (Buenos Aires: Imprenta El Porvenir, 1872), 506-512.
 “Manifiesto del Club Unión de Artesanos”, El Independiente, January 6, 1878.
 La Razón, January 30, 1878.
 La Razón...
 La Razón, December 23, 1877.