On November 19, 2023, the right-wing libertarian Javier Milei was selected as Argentina’s new president, rolling the dice of an outsider with radical views to fix the economy battered by triple-digit inflation coupled with a looming recession and rising poverty.
The official results have shown that Milei, with nearly fifty-six per cent, just over forty-four per cent for his rival Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who conceded in a speech. The result once again caught the pollsters off guard, who predicted a closer race.
Reaction from Citizens
In the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires, hundreds of supporters honked horns and chanted his popular refrain against the political elite- “out with all of them” as rock music played from speakers. Some people set off fireworks as the excitement spread all over.
“We came to celebrate this historic triumph,” said Efrain Viveros, a 21-year-old student from the city of Salta. “I am honestly ecstatic. Milei represents change for the better. With Massa, we have had no future, and our future has returned. “Milei is the new thing, but he is a bit of an unknown and scary, but it is time to turn over a new page said 31-year-old restaurant worker Cristian as he voted on November 19, 2023.
“Perhaps not everything Milei says I agree or can identify, but he is our future said Irene Sosa, the 20-year-old student out of the election bunker. He represents a future for young people like me. Massa was everything that is wrong with our country. Milei is very popular with the young generation of Argentina. His wins shook up the political landscape of Argentina, and the economic roadmap could impact the trade in grains, lithium and hydrocarbons.
Massa, in a speech, said he had congratulated Milei and said the libertarian now needed to show his readiness to rule. “From tomorrow, the responsibility of providing certainty belongs to Milei,” he said.
Reaction from other Nations
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wished Milei luck and success after the result was announced, adding that it was important democracy was respected. Former U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Milei and said the libertarian would make Argentina great again. The Leftist Colombian President Gustavo Petro, meanwhile, said it was a “sad day” for the region.
Milei’s Plans and Challenges
Milei is pledging “shock economic therapy”, and his plans include shutting the central bank, ditching the peso, and slashing spending, potentially painful reforms that resonated with the voters angry at the economic malaise. He has stated that he will not deal with communists and leftists, especially with China and Brazil, and will favour deepening ties with the US instead. He is also against anti-abortion, favours loose gun laws, and has criticised Argentinian Pope Francis.
His challenges are also enormous. He will have to deal with the empty coffers of the central and state banks, a creaking 44 billion debt program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), inflation nearing 150 per cent and a dizzying array of capital controls. However, his backers believe that only he has the ability to uproot the political status quo and economic malaise that has dogged South American second-largest economy for years.
After October’s first-round vote, Milei struck an uneasy alliance with the conservatives, which boosted his support. But he faces a highly fragmented Congress with no single bloc having a majority, meaning that he has to get backing from other factions to push legislation. His coalition does not have any regional governors and mayors.
The shock rise of Milei, a 53-year-old economist and former TV Pundit, has broken the hegemony of two main opposing political forces, the Peronists and the Together the Change conservation bloc. “the election marks a “strong rupture” in the political system of Argentina, said Julio Bradman, director of Consultancy Observatorio Electoral ahead of the vote.