Javier Milei, leader of the far-right populist movement La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Goes Forward), is, according to polls, the favorite in Sunday’s presidential elections in Argentina. It announces the fight against the widespread crime in the country, making it easier for citizens to purchase and legally possess weapons, and radically tightening the provisions of the Penal Code. According to experts, “Milea’s candidacy reflects anti-establishment sentiment in the region after a decade of slow growth and economic collapse.” The American newspaper “New York Times” predicts that the next president of Argentina may be a “mini-Trump”.
“He became famous for insulting people on TV. On the Internet, he sharply attacks his critics. He has an unruly hairstyle that has become a meme. And now he is the leader of the far right in his country,” says the New York Times in a publication dedicated to 53-year-old Javier Milea. taking part in Sunday’s presidential election race Argentina.
Javier Milei, leader of the far-right populist movement La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Goes Forward), was topping all polls before Sunday’s elections in Argentina, a country ruled by Peronist politicians and plagued by extremely high inflation. It is currently over 124 percent year-on-year.
According to polls, Milei may receive the most votes, but most likely he will not win in the first round of voting.
He promises to dollarize Argentina
The New York Times wrote that “Donald Trump and his rise to the US presidency in 2016 bear some striking similarities with the man behind the current events in Argentina, who has become a new political sensation in that country.”
“Milei, a libertarian economist and television commentator, was once considered a sideshow in Argentina’s presidential race and was not taken seriously by either the media or his opponents. Now, after an audacious campaign based on the promise that he alone could solve the deep the country’s economic problems, is the favorite to win Sunday’s elections or in the second round of elections to be held in November,” the American daily emphasized.
According to the New York Times, the potential successor to current Argentine leader Alberto Fernandez “has already turned the politics of the country of 46 million people upside down.” “His promises to liquidate the Central Bank of Argentina and abandon the Argentine peso in favor of the U.S. dollar dominated national debate and contributed to a further decline in the value of the national currency,” the NYT noted.
– Milei’s strong candidacy reflects anti-establishment sentiment in the region after a decade of slow growth and economic collapse caused by the pandemic. Voters are genuinely intrigued by his promise to dollarize the economy. They are ready to abandon the peso like a bad habit, regardless of whether Milei will be able to successfully adopt the American currency or not, said Benjamin Gedan, director of the Argentina program at the Wilson Center think tank, quoted by the BBC.
In the last pre-election debate, the candidate for the new head of state repeated the main points of his program, which included a ruthless fight against the crime spreading in the country. According to Milea, this should be achieved by making it easier for citizens to purchase and legally possess weapons, radically tightening the provisions of the penal code and “modifying the prison system.”
“It’s definitely a mini-Trump,” said Federico Finchelstein, an Argentinian who heads the history department at the New School in New York and studies the far right around the world.
In his opinion, Milei Donald Trump and former president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro are “leading practitioners of today’s far-right politics, which are characterized by vulgarity, attacks on institutions, media discredit, distrust of science, personality cult and narcissism.”
“Trump is a symbol of this new form of extreme populism, and Milei wants to emulate him,” Finchelstein added.
Milei claimed that Trump was one of the “best presidents in the history of the United States.” He wore a cap with the inscription “Let’s make Argentina great again” (a reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan – “Make America Great Again”) and, like the former US president, he campaigned mainly on social media.
During the election campaign, Milei criticized China. He also accused Pope Francis about his links with communist dictatorships, calling him an “imbecile” and “a representative of evil on earth.”
A rock fan and abortion opponent, he showed up at campaign rallies with a large $100 bill with his own face instead of Benjamin Franklin’s, and with a chainsaw to symbolize his plans to cut budget spending.
According to “NYT”, Sunday’s elections in Argentina are “an important test for the global far-right movement”.
As the New York Times wrote, “Milei (if he wins the elections – editor) may move to the country’s presidential residence, Casa Rosada, not with his wife and children, but with five mastiffs, which he has long called his children.”
“Technically speaking, these five dogs are not the traditional offspring of any animal. They are genetic copies of his previous dog named Conan, which were created in a laboratory in upstate New York,” recalled the American daily.
According to the editorial, Milei “made his previous dog Conan, named after the film ‘Conan the Barbarian,’ the main character of his story, maintaining that the dog saved his life and that he spent many Christmases with him when he felt abandoned by others.” “He made the cloned dogs symbols of his libertarian ideals, naming four of them after three conservative American economists: Murray Rothbard, Milton Friedman and Robert Lucas,” the NYT reported.
Argentina in crisis
The election result will have a significant impact on how Argentina is perceived around the world. South America’s second economy, after Brazil, is currently the country most indebted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with an outstanding debt of $44 billion. Before the elections, the current government had to take out another loan from China to ensure the country’s stability.
Galloping inflation and the economic crisis in Argentina were accompanied by the phenomenon of capital flight. Wealthy Argentines moved money to accounts in neighboring economically stable Uruguay.
Milei’s main opponents are the current Minister of Economy in the Peronist, center-left government, Sergio Massa, and former Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, representing the traditional conservative camp.
To win in the first round of elections, it is necessary to obtain at least 45 percent of the votes or 40 percent if the advantage over the second candidate in terms of voter support is at least ten percentage points. Otherwise, the two presidential candidates who obtained the best result in the elections will meet in the second round of voting, which will take place in November.
Along with the voting for president and vice president, elections to Congress, Argentina’s bicameral parliament, will also be held on Sunday. The composition of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate will be partially changed. According to forecasts, after the elections, no party will have a majority in either house, which means that the new president will have to seek compromises across political divisions, and radical announcements may be difficult to implement.
Main photo source: getty images