Argentina elects far-right populist Javier Milei 'the madman' as new president

Argentina elects far-right populist Javier Milei 'the madman' as new president


Monday 20 November 2023

Right-wing populist Javier Milei is set to lead Argentina into uncharted territory with his election as president. Known as "el Loco" (the madman), Milei's approach to governance is expected to be anything but conventional, as indicated by his campaign antics, including using a chainsaw as a symbol of his intent to drastically reduce the state's size.

Milei's victory was decisive, securing wins in 21 out of 24 provinces, leaving his political rival, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, to concede even before preliminary results were announced. At 53, Milei promises radical changes to address Argentina's escalating inflation, currently above 140%, and a poverty rate of 40%. His controversial proposals include drastically cutting government spending, adopting the US dollar as Argentina's currency, and dismantling the Central Bank along with key ministries like health and education.

Despite softening his stance on some unpopular proposals, Milei remains firmly anti-abortion, opposes sex education in schools, and advocates for more relaxed gun control laws. His admiration for former US President Donald Trump is evident in his anti-global socialism stance and his commitment to eliminating corrupt establishment politicians from the Argentine government.

The election night saw Milei's supporters celebrating with fireworks and chants outside his headquarters in Buenos Aires. His aggressive and often profane rhetoric has plunged Argentina into the global culture war, reminiscent of political climates in the US and Brazil. Like Trump and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Milei had made unsubstantiated claims of election fraud prior to the runoff, raising concerns about potential impacts on democratic norms.

Former President Trump extended his congratulations via Truth Social, expressing pride and optimism for Milei's leadership in Argentina. Similarly, Bolsonaro, on the social platform X (formerly known as Twitter), hailed Milei's win as a beacon of "honesty, progress, and freedom" for South America.