Controversial libertarian economist Javier Milei has been elected Argentina’s next president. With nearly 90 percent of the votes counted, Milei received nearly 56 percent of the vote, compared to 44 percent for his runoff rival, Economy Minister Sergio Massa.
The 53-year-old Milei can be mildly described as a bit of an oddity in both the Argentine and global political landscape, having been compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump, among others. He has built his appeal largely on promises to revive the economy at a time when Argentina is facing its sixth recession in ten years. Argentines have long been frustrated by a cost-of-living crisis combined with triple-digit inflation, which reached its highest level since the early 1990s during the summer.
Libertarians typically view government activity as an infringement on individual freedom and advocate a free market combined with significantly lower taxes and little or no social spending. Milei has also maintained a sharp rhetorical line towards the cultural left, to which the formally Catholic Milei has included, for example, Pope Francis.
Even before the official results were announced, Sergio Massa conceded defeat in a statement.
– The result is not what we expected and I have contacted Javier Milei to congratulate him and wish him good luck, Massa said, also thanking his supporters.
– I am a man of democracy and I value nothing more than the verdict of the people. I am convinced that tomorrow we can start working with Javier Milei to ensure an orderly transition (of power), said former president Alberto Fernandez on X.
During the campaign, Milei made several sweeping proposals, including the abolition of the country’s central bank. He also advocates cutting public spending in order to fix the economy. It has also been noted that he is open to the cryptocurrency bitcoin as a way to reform the economy.
– The central bank is a fraud, a mechanism by which politicians cheat the good people with inflationary taxes (which is why bitcoin) represents the return of money to its original creator, the private sector, he has previously said.
Javier Gerardo Milei
Javier Milei was born in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, on October 22, 1970. His mother Alicia was a housewife, and his father Norberto was a bus driver and later a businessman in the bus industry. The family is of Italian origin. Milei first gained attention as an economist and author of several books on economics and politics before becoming politically active.
Milei calls himself an anarcho-capitalist and wants to legalize organ trade, among other things. He aims to abolish the central bank and introduce the American dollar as the currency in Argentina.
He supports former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former US President Donald Trump, particularly for their anti-communist stance and criticism of socialism. He sees the United States and Israel as his main allies. He has also expressed his intention to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the Argentine embassy there from Tel Aviv.
At the beginning of Russia's intervention in Ukraine in early 2022, Javier Milei entered the Argentine national congress palace with a Ukrainian flag to show his solidarity with Kyiv.