In a shocking turn of events, Argentina’s recent presidential primary saw the victory of Javier Milei, a man who proudly wears his admiration for former U.S. President Donald Trump on his sleeve. But Milei isn’t just an admirer; he also happens to parrot some of Trump’s most contentious claims, like dubbing climate change as a “socialist lie.”
With a slim margin over his opponents, Milei pulled in just over 30% of the votes, setting him as a tentative favorite for Argentina’s impending October general election. What’s at stake, you ask? An economically struggling nation grappling with an inflation rate surging above 115% and a harrowing statistic where nearly 40% of its people are submerged in poverty.
Now, Milei isn’t your run-of-the-mill economist-turned-congressman. Oh no, he’s gone full throttle on the radical scale, painting himself as Argentina’s “savior” with a rather dystopian vision. His chief promise? Taking a metaphorical “chainsaw” to the country’s public expenditure. In his view, the austere measures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) barely scratch the surface of his grand plan.
His economic recipes might raise some millennial eyebrows, to say the least. Milei is gung-ho about disbanding Argentina’s central bank and ushering in the U.S. dollar to replace the peso. But wait, there’s more. The man’s advocating for a reduction in taxes while eyeing the public healthcare system with a pay-per-use model. His economic playbook doesn’t stop there. Think privatization of state-owned enterprises and saying adios to entire ministries like health, education, and environment.
If you thought his economic standpoint was extreme, Milei’s social views aren’t far behind. Branding climate change as fiction, opposing sex education as an attempt to dismantle the family structure, endorsing the sale of human organs, and lobbying for more accessible handgun ownership? It’s all part of the Milei package.
This right-wing firebrand narrowly surpassed the center-right opposition coalition, United for Change, which had garnered close to 28% of the popular support. Meanwhile, the current rulers, steered by economy minister Sergio Massa, were just a smidge behind with 27%. It’s interesting to note that Argentina’s present leader, President Alberto Fernandez, has chosen to remain on the sidelines this election.
Given the razor-thin differences in the primary’s results, the upcoming general election might not produce a clear victor. If that’s the case, Argentina could be gearing up for a nail-biting November runoff. Left-leaning millennials and progressives: get your popcorn ready! This is going to be a rollercoaster of a political showdown.