Written by Nico Fodor
Edited by Annika Lilja
Argentina’s most recent presidential election witnessed an important change in the country’s political landscape, resulting in the victory of far-right libertarian Javier Milei over Sergio Massa, the center-left finance minister. Milei won by securing 55.69% of the vote, marking a significant departure from the traditional political party and presenting Argentina with a future characterized by unpredictability and potential turbulence.
Milei, often compared to Donald Trump for his similar policies and language, celebrated his victory as the beginning of Argentina’s reconstruction. While campaigning, he promised drastic measures to fight the nation’s high inflation of over 140% and widespread poverty. Milei’s plan to end the central bank and dollarize the economy addresses the need to tackle the country's severe economic problems. In his victory speech, Milei conveyed a message of revitalizing Argentina’s global position, with a goal to restore its place in the world.
Massa, conceding defeat after receiving 44.3% of the vote, acknowledged the electorate’s choice for a different path and hinted at stepping away from politics. This election marked a notable shift away from the Peronist movement (a leftist labor movement created by Juan Perón, a former Argentine leader who focused on economic benefit for the working class), which had politically dominated Argentina for a long time.
Supporters of Milei expressed excitement, hopeful that their new leader, an economic visionary, can guide Argentina out of its severe financial crisis. The victory garnered support from influential figures globally, including former President Donald Trump and Brazil’s ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, highlighting a new way via “honesty, progress, and freedom” in South America. However, this win provoked varied reactions from the country’s population, sparking both joy and concern among citizens. The prospect of Milei’s leadership stirs both hopes for change and apprehension about the potential economic repercussions, including a further decline in the peso against the dollar and continued financial struggles.
Milei’s rise to power has scared and made many uneasy. His radical ideas, erratic behavior, and controversial remarks questioning historical events like the Argentine dictatorship’s crimes have polarized opinions. Critics fear his extreme views can plunge the country into further uncertainty. The election results reflect a desperation for change, electing a populist-style leader willing to take risks despite potential ramifications. However, Milei’s untested governance style and extreme policies can pose a challenge, raising concerns about possible social unrest, economic volatility, and strains on democratic institutions.
As Milei begins his presidential term, the country finds itself at a crossroads, balancing hope for transformation with apprehension about the consequences of embracing an unorthodox leader. The future of Argentina under Milei remains a subject of intense scrutiny and concern, where he could lead the nation to unprecedented change or further turmoil.
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Lu, Christina. "Argentina Elects a New 'Anarcho-Capitalist' President." Foreign Policy, 20 Nov. 2023, foreignpolicy.com/2023/11/20/argentina-election-runoff-results-president-javier-milei-economy-policies/.
Nicas, Jack, and Natalie Alcoba. "5 Takeaways From Argentina's Election." New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2023/10/23/world/americas/argentina-election-runoff-milei.html.