Populist presidential candidate Javier Milei won Argentina’s election on November 19 on a wave of voter anger with mainstream political parties as the country faces triple-digit inflation, rising poverty, and a looming recession, Reuters reported.
Milei, whom the media described as a “far-right libertarian,” defeated Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa by nearly 12 points, 56 percent to just over 44 percent.
In a speech after his victory, the self-described anarcho-capitalist declared an end to the “model of decadence” and vowed that the country would not go back. Acknowledging the country’s economic problems, Milei described the situation as “critical” and said there was no room “for tepid half-measures.”
Milei campaigned on a pledge to take drastic action to correct the Argentinian economy, including shutting down the country’s central bank, cutting spending, and ditching the peso as the country’s currency.
Early in his campaign, Milei used to carry a chainsaw to symbolize his planned cuts. However, in the weeks leading up to the election, he ditched it to boost a more moderate image on the campaign trail.
The challenges facing the populist are daunting, with Argentina carrying a 44 billion debt with the International Monetary Fund and a skyrocketing inflation rate of over 140 percent.
While Milei’s proposed solutions were cause for concern among some voters, many Argentinians viewed Melei as the “lesser evil” compared to Sergio Massa and the Peronist party whom voters blamed for the country’s economic crisis.
Milei was especially popular among younger voters who have grown up watching Argentina limp from one crisis to another.
Milei is a harsh critic of both China and Brazil, saying that he would not deal with “communists.” Instead, the populist leader seeks to strengthen ties with the United States.
A former television pundit, Milei is vehemently anti-abortion, supports loosening gun laws, and is staunchly supportive of Israel.