The Generation of '80 (Spanish: Generación del '80) was the governing elite in Argentina from 1880 to 1916. Members of the oligarchy of the provinces and the country's capital, they first joined the League of Governors (Liga de Gobernadores), and then the National Autonomist Party. They filled the highest public political, economical, military and religious positions, staying in power through electoral fraud.

In spite of the growing opposition politically centred on the Radical Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical, UCR), and anarchist and socialist groups workers formed mainly by immigrant workers, the Generation of '80 managed to stay in power until the sanction of the Sáenz Peña Law of secret, universal, and obligatory male suffrage.

Economic liberalism and social conservatism

The project of the Generation of '80 consisted of keeping the country free of any kind of unrest, with harsh responses towards any kind of revolts, to maintain a stability that would attract foreign investment, while centering the economy of the country in the production of primary food products to support the import of the needed manufactured goods.

On the social level, the concept of progress was linked to the creation of public, free and compulsory primary education, and the incentive of European immigration.


The art from this period featured the social issues of the Generation of '80.[1] From left to right: Without bread and without work (1894) by Ernesto de la Cárcova and The soup of the poor (1884) by Reynaldo Giudici.

The positive international balance of trade of the country was not re-invested in modernization and industrialisation of the basic production of the country, but expended by the richest groups with luxury items and imposing constructions.

European immigration brought not only educated people (in comparison with the uneducated gauchos and Native Americans, as seen by Domingo Sarmiento), but also several political ideologies that were rising in Europe: socialism and anarchism, which clashed with the liberal position of the governing elite.

During the second presidency of Julio A. Roca, Law 4144 or Law of Argentine Residence was sanctioned, which allowed the immediate expulsion of any activists opposing the national government. Juárez Celman had to resign after the Revolución del Parque (English: Revolution of the Park, because it started with the capture of the Buenos Aires Artillery Park). In 1905 the UCR coordinated an armed rebellion between several provinces.

Even though there were a few mild changes towards the conciliation with the workers, such as the creation of the National Work Department in 1907, such enterprises were merely decorative.

In 1910, as celebration of the centenary of the National Independence approached, the Law of Social Defense was sanctioned, which allowed arrests for the prevention of revolts.

But the increasing number of workers' strikes and press criticism forced the sanction of the Sáenz Peña Law in 1912. In the following elections of 1916, the first ones open to every male Argentine citizen, radical candidate Hipólito Yrigoyen was elected president.


  1. ^ Malosetti Costa, Laura (March 2010). "Un panorama del siglo XIX". Centro virtual de arte argentino. Government of the City of Buenos Aires. Archived from the original on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 


  • Bruno, Paula (May–August 2007), "Un balance acerca del uso de la expresión generación del 80 entre 1920 y 2000", Secuencia. Revista de Historia y Ciencias Sociales - Instituto de Investigaciones "Dr. José María Luis Mora", México DF (68): 117–161