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Argentina’s New Era: Milei’s Victory Emphasizes Far-Right Shift

Argentinian voters propel far-right agenda to power after electing Javier Milei.

Javier Milei
Argentine politician Javier Milei during presidential primaries in Buenos Aires on August 13, 2023. Credit: Shutterstock/Facundo Florit

Argentina elected far-right economist Javier Milei after the runoff election on Nov. 19. Milei won 56% of the vote over presidential candidate and Minister of Economy Sergio Massa, who received 44%.

Argentina’s current inflation rate is over 140%, which Milei’s administration will work to remedy with economic shock treatment. His plans involve radical economic change, including converting the peso currency to the U.S. dollar and eliminating the Argentine Central Bank.

Milei started as a political outsider, considered a libertarian economist and media personality. His unique look––messy hairstyle and leather jackets––drew the attention of supporters and critics.

Milei’s supporters believe drastic change will help Argentina remedy its economic turbulence.

Besides his fiscal program, Milei hopes to achieve other conservative goals during his administration, such as encouraging privatizations, cutting back welfare, and enforcing strict abortion legislation. 

Milei’s right-wing ideals push back against the strong left-wing political history in Latin America. The region was governed largely by left-wing leaders for decades, but the political climate shifted with the rise of Brazil’s right-wing Jair Bolsonaro.

As larger economies in Latin America welcome right-wing leaders, the majority-left political landscape may change over the next decade.

Public Opinion

Some LATAM left-wing leaders have publicly proclaimed their lack of confidence in Argentina’s president-elect. 

“The extreme right has won in Argentina. It is the decision of its society. Sad for Latin America,” Colombian President Gustavo Petro said after the election.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump also posted on social media supporting President Milei. 

“The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you,” Trump said. “You will turn your Country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!”

Milei has critics as well as supporters. After Taylor Swift publicly denounced Trump, her supporters were inspired to form an anti-Milei movement in Argentina

This movement compared Milei to Trump and encouraged other Swifties to oppose Milei. Despite this political opposition, Milei was still victorious. 

Future Plans

Milei has a new foreign policy that involves reorganizing international affairs and allyships. BRICS, an organization with Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, aims to move the economic sector away from the West. Previously, BRICS invited Argentina to join.

Instead, Milei wants to maintain relations with the United States. The U.S. is a large voice in the IMF (International Monetary Fund); it would benefit Argentina during its IMF negotiations. Currently, Argentina owes $44 billion to the IMF.

Regardless of economic and foreign policy, Milei doesn’t have a majority in Congress and must rely on other parties to pass legislation. 

He will also have to work with powerful labor unions and unemployment organizations, known as piqueteros, that hold many protests in the capital city of Buenos Aires. As 40% of Argentinians live in poverty, Milei inherits public pressure to remedy the domestic situation quickly and effectively.

There are less than three weeks until Milei’s inauguration on Dec. 10, one of Latin America’s shortest presidential transition periods.

Written By

I'm Jessica Walker and I'm a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in journalism and international relations. Along with writing and reporting, I'm also interested in foreign affairs and politics. I love traveling, reading good books, and watching and playing tennis.

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