Argentina has elected Javier Milei, a far-right libertarian who has drawn comparisons to Donald J. Trump, as their next president.
For a nation struggling under an economic crisis and a sign, the lurch to the far-right depicts a radical departure from consensus politics, after Milei was elected with 56% of the vote. Sergio Massa, 51, Argentina’s centre-left economy minister, who had 44%, conceded defeat even before official results were released.
Milei, 53, an economist and former television personality with little political experience, burst onto the traditionally closed Argentine political scene with a brash style, an embrace of conspiracy theories and a series of extreme proposals that he says are needed to upend a broken economy and government.
He has pledged to slash spending and taxes, close Argentina’s central bank and replace the nation’s currency with the U.S. dollar.
He has also proposed banning abortion, loosening regulations on guns and considering only countries that want to “fight against socialism” as Argentina’s allies, often naming the United States and Israel as examples.
In his victory speech, he attacked the political “caste” that he says has enriched themselves at the expense of average Argentines, saying “today is the end to Argentine decadence.” But he also offered an olive branch.
“I want to tell all Argentines and all political leaders and all those who want to join the new Argentina: You’re going to be welcome,” he said.
Ousted former Brazilian president Javier Bolsonaro and Spain’s far-right Vox party cheered on Milei; the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson travelled to Argentina to interview him; and the billionaire Elon Musk on Sunday said after Milei’s victory that “prosperity is ahead for Argentina.”
Donald Trump congratulated Milei. “I am very proud of you,” he said in an online post. “You will turn your country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!”
Milei’s political style resembles Trump’s and Bolsonaro’s in many ways. He harshly attacks his critics and the news media, he calls the scientific consensus on climate change a socialist plot, he argues that a shadowy cabal controls the country and he even has an unruly hairdo that has become an online meme.
Milei has also downplayed the atrocities of Argentina’s bloody military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, calling them “excesses” as part of a “war” against leftists. He said during a national debate that the number of people killed under the dictatorship was far smaller than the widely accepted estimates of as many as 30,000 people.
That rhetoric, paired with his warnings of a rigged election, raised broad concerns in Argentina about his potential effect on the nation’s democracy.