São Paulo, Brazil

Four months before candidates take part in party primaries ahead of Argentina's October presidential election, many political leaders have been working on building alliances to ensure the support of evangelical Christians.

These efforts have been led by the right-wing coalition 'Juntos por el Cambio' ('Together for Change'), the major opposition alliance in the South American nation, whose leaders have been meeting with well-known pastors over the past few weeks. 

But the left-wing 'Partido Justicialista', led by the current President Alberto Fernández and by Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner - both of whom have announced they are not running in the election, has also has been courting evangelicals through its influence in poorer communities in Buenos Aires and other cities known as villas

Argentina Buenos Aires Congress

The Congress of the Republic of Argentina in the city of Buenos Aires. PICTURE: Nestor Barbitta/Unsplash

About 15 per cent of Argentinians identify as evangelical, according to a 2019 survey. Many in Argentina are now wondering if that social segment can play a similar role that Christians played in Brazil in 2018, when they were decisive in former President Jair Bolsonaro’s victory.

Anthropologist Pablo Semán, an expert in the religious dynamics in Argentina, says the participation of evangelicals in the country’s political life is not the same as in Brazil. For a start, he says, they are a much smaller group than in Brazil where they account for some 30 per cent of the population.

Argentina Christian Hooft

Pastor Christian Hooft, who heads the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of the Republic of Argentina (known as ACIERA). PICTURE: Courtesy image.


“Churches should not morally judge any person, including politicians. That is something that is up to God. Each churchgoer must be guided by his or her Christian values when choosing a candidate."

- Pastor Christian Hooft

“The political systems are also rather different," adds Semán, who is a researcher at Argentina's National Scientific and Technical Research Council (known as Conicet) and a professor at San Martín National University. "The Argentinian party system is stronger than the Brazilian one. Evangelicals in Argentina tend to identify with and support existing parties.” 

In Brazil, Semán tells Sight, evangelical organisations are able to mobilise voters and have a great impact on the political system. In Argentina, they have to adapt to an already consolidated set of political forces – and Christian voters tend to behave like the non-Christian ones.

That is why people like Pastor Christian Hooft, who heads the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of the Republic of Argentina (known as ACIERA), considers that there is no such thing as an “evangelical vote” in the country.

“There is no uniformity among Christians," he says. "And there is no intention that such uniformity comes into being,”

ACIERA, which has existed since 1982, brings together about 15,000 churches in Argentina. It has avoided getting involved in politics or supporting particular candidates, Hooft explains.

“Churches should not morally judge any person, including politicians. That is something that is up to God. Each churchgoer must be guided by his or her Christian values when choosing a candidate."

We rely on our readers to fund Sight's work - become a financial supporter today!

For more information, head to our Subscriber's page.


In countries like Brazil and the United States, right-wing leaders have succeeded in associating the political right with Christian values - such as the defence of life since conception and the repudiation of same-sex marriage - while the left wing has been greatly rejected by most evangelicals due to its support to such causes.

In Argentina that is not happening, Semán says.

“Certainly, many evangelicals have been taking into consideration moral topics, but that has not been decisive in their electoral behaviour."

Many Christians voted for President Fernández in the last election, even though they knew that he would present a bill to legalise abortion (something that happened in 2021). That is because Peronists - represented by Partido Justicialista - usually promote policies which aim to distribute wealth more equitably among the population, something that draws support among the poor.

Hooft emphasises that, in his opinion, voters should never make a choice based in only one theme, given that elected officials deal with a plural reality. 

“A certain candidate may be against abortion but may be someone who favours wars. Churches also have to consider what will be done regarding poverty, social inclusion, and the people’s dignity,” he argued.

With such a complex scenario, most pastors prefer to avoid political discussions that could divide their communities, Semán said. 

View of slums of Buenos Aires called Villa 31, Buenos Aires, Argentina,

A scene in Villa 31 in Buenos Aires taken on 1st May, 2014. PICTURE: sunsinger/Shutterstock

In Villa 31, one of the oldest and most emblematic villas in Buenos Aires, Chilean-born pastor Felix Muñoz believes most evangelicals support Peronism. 

“The church is obviously against things like same-sex marriage. But each one must make his or her own electoral decision. I believe that one should not discuss politics in the church,” he tells Sight.

Muñoz, who lives in Argentina since 2005, leads a small church called Reaching the Reaper, which has a congregation of around 100. His community did not take part in the protests against the abortion bill in 2020 and 2021.

“We do not have time for this kind of thing,” he said, adding that they are focused on praying and on living the reality of the Gospel.

“Pastors lead heterogenous communities," Semán explains. "They must prioritise their communities’ unity. That is why they avoid politics – especially because most churchgoers will not listen to them when it comes to voting,” 

Semán notes that, in general, parties connected to evangelical movements or leaders have failed to join with broader Christian groups. Nevertheless, there have been attempts of Christian politicians to launch parties directly connected to churchgoers. 

That is the case of Cynthia Hotton’s 'Más Valores' ('More Values'). A Christian leader of Australian descent, Hotton came to public attention in Argentina as a conservative politician who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion. Her party received only 2.9 per cent of the ballots in 2021 and did not secure a seat in Congress.

'Una Nueva Oportunidad' ('A New Opportunity') is another political party directly associated with evangelicals. It is part of 'Juntos por el Cambio' and is present in several Argentinian provinces.

None of those parties please Rev Ariel Diaz, a Pentecostal pastor in Mar del Plata who heads the Argentinian Federation of Evangelical Pastors (known as FAPE), an association that has some 5,000 ministers. 

“Some politicians use the name of the Christian church, but at the same time they are together with the worst political groups in the country,” he says.

Diaz is a critic of Hotton who, he says, "is now associated with pro-abortion politicians". Hotton is part of the administration of Buenos Aires’s Governor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and is supporting him in his bid for president. Larreta is a major leader of 'Propuesta Republicana' ('Republican Proposal', known as PRO), former President Mauricio Macri’s party. Macri, who has also announced he is not running in this election, endorsed the pro-abortion bill.

FAPE is working to establish its own political party next year, according to Diaz.

“Given that we have no guarantees that any existing party will struggle for our Christian values – like the defence of life since conception – we will create our own party,” he said.

Diaz does not think that evangelicals will particularly identify with any of the current potential candidates but that “the promise of social policies” will lead many of them to vote for the incumbent Partido Justicialista.

Argentina Horacio Larreta and Cynthia Hotton

Horacio Larreta and Cynthia Hotton stand on the stage during meeting with pastors in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 10th April. PICTURE: Government of Buenos Aires

Pablo Semán does not think so. He considers that the Peronists’ distributive policies have failed during President Fernández’s tenure. Indeed, the country has been struggling with economic problems over the past years. 

Between March, 2022, and March, 2023, for instance, the inflation rate rose to 104 per cent. Almost 40 per cent of the people are living in poverty. 


A recent poll put Fernández' disapproval rate reached 81 per cent and Cristina Kirchner’s disapproval rate at 71 per cent. 'Juntos por el Cambio’s Patricia Bullrich has the highest approval rate at 40 per cent followed by Larreta at 37 per cent.

Semán thinks that the evangelical vote will mostly migrate to the right-wing – as well as the non-evangelical vote.

“The current government will receive a maximum of 35 per cent of support,” he estimated.

For the time being, Hooft believes evangelical political activism isn't likely to gain much ground in Argentina.

“The Bible is not rightist or leftist," says Hooft. "We cannot have a party politics’ view. In the Protestant tradition, we believe in the separation between church and state."