The Generation, Year: 1, Issue: 12
Argentina elected right-wing libertarian Javier Milei as its new president on Sunday, rolling the dice on an outsider with radical views to fix an economy battered by triple-digit inflation, a looming recession and rising poverty. Milei, who rode a wave of voter anger with the political mainstream, won by a wider-than-expected margin. He landed some 56% of the vote versus just over 44% for his rival, Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who conceded.
“The model of decadence has come to an end, there’s no going back,” Milei said in a defiant speech after the result, while also acknowledging the challenges that face him. “We have monumental problems ahead: inflation, lack of work, and poverty,” he said. “The situation is critical and there is no place for tepid half-measures.”
In downtown Buenos Aires hundreds of Milei supporters honked horns and chanted his popular refrain against the political elite – “out with all of them” – as rock music played from speakers. Some people set off fireworks as excitement spread.
Milei is pledging economic shock therapy. His plans include shutting the central bank, ditching the peso, and slashing spending, potentially painful reforms that resonated with voters angry at the economic malaise.
“Milei is the new thing, he’s a bit of an unknown and it is a little scary, but it’s time to turn over a new page,” said 31-year-old restaurant worker Cristian as he voted on Sunday. Milei’s challenges are enormous. He will have to deal with the empty coffers of the government and central bank, a creaking $44 billion debt program with the International Monetary Fund, inflation nearing 150% and a dizzying array of capital controls.
Some Argentines had characterised the vote as a choice of the “lesser evil”: fear of Milei’s painful economic medicine versus anger at Massa and his Peronist party for an economic crisis that has left Argentina deeply in debt and unable to tap global credit markets.