Javier Milei, an eccentric Trump-admiring libertarian economist, was elected President of Argentina on Saturday.
Javier Milei, an eccentric Trump-admiring libertarian economist, was elected President of Argentina on Saturday. Milei defeated left-winger Sergio Massa by an 11-point margin and has pledged to take a “chainsaw” to the socialist policies that have ruined Argentina’s economy.
- “The model of decadence has come to an end, there’s no going back,” Milei said in his victory speech. “We have monumental problems ahead: inflation, lack of work, and poverty. The situation is critical and there is no place for tepid half-measures.”
- The libertarian Milei was first elected to Argentina’s legislature in 2021 and came out of nowhere to win the most votes in the August primary elections, surpassing both Massa, the candidate of the ruling party of unpopular President Alberto Fernandez, and Patricia Bullrich, the nominee of the center-right party that governed Argentina from 2015 to 2019.
- Massa, the incumbent Economy Minister who has struggled to manage Argentina’s dismal economy, won the initial vote in October with a plurality but was soundly defeated in yesterday’s run-off vote.
- Milei takes charge of an Argentine economy struggling with a 200% inflation rate and hobbled by years of unsustainable government spending. The free-spending policies of Argentina’s left has led to repeated debt defaults that have cut Argentina off from international financial markets.
- Around 40% of Argentines live in poverty and the country’s GDP is on decline after decades of economic mismanagement. The ruling Justicialist Party has governed Argentina for 16 of the last 20 years and its free-spending Peronist ideology has dominated Argentine politics for nearly a century.
- CNN called Milei a “far-right outsider” whose “campaign promise to dollarize Argentina, if enacted, is expected to thrust the country into new territory: no country of Argentina’s size has previously turned over the reins of its own monetary policy to Washington decisionmakers.”
- The New York Times observed Milei “has also proposed banning abortion, loosening regulations on guns and considering only countries that want to ‘fight against socialism’ as Argentina’s allies, often naming the United States and Israel as examples.”
- The Guardian reported “Milei’s victory was celebrated by other big beasts of the global far-right including Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro, who had championed his campaign and has promised to attend his inauguration. ‘Hope is sparkling in South America once again,’ Bolsonaro wrote on X, hailing what he called a victory for ‘honesty, progress and freedom.’ The former US president Donald Trump wrote: ‘The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you. You will turn your country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again.'”
- The Wall Street Journal summed up the stakes of his victory: “The victory of the firebrand economist over the ruling Peronist movement opens the door to a broadscale economic overhaul that he has promised for this country of 46 million people. Milei’s proposals include adopting the U.S. dollar as the national currency, scrapping the central bank, prioritizing commerce with capitalist nations like the U.S. over China, and reducing a bloated state sector.”
- Fox News claimed Milei would be the “world’s first libertarian head of state.” Reporter David Unsworth summed up the election campaign: “How can the current economy minister of a nation with 140% inflation and 40% living below the poverty line win a presidential election? It turns out that he can’t, at least not in Argentina.”
- Breitbart reported on the ground in Buenos Aires: “The atmosphere in the heart of Buenos Aires was a festive one, attracting thousands of people, including many young Argentines, waving their nation’s flags and the insignia of the Liberty Advances Party, a yellow and black flag featuring a lion.”
© Dominic Moore, 2023