Javier Milei, the winner of Sunday’s presidential election in the midst of one of the highest rates of inflation in the world, took Argentina to the right with a bombastic anti-establishment campaign that drew comparisons to that of former US President Donald Trump.
Even before the official results were released on Sunday evening, his opponent Sergio Massa conceded the run-off vote in a brief speech. “Milei has been elected president for the next four years,” declared Massa, who added that he had already given Milei a call of congratulations.
Milei announced on a local radio station that he would be visiting the US and Israel prior to his inauguration in December, following his election victory.
He said that because he plans to visit his “rabbi friends,” his trip to the US will have “a spiritual connotation.”
When questioned about his itinerary, Milei replied that he would fly to the US and travel to Tel Aviv via New York in the coming days.
He stated, “We talked about this yesterday with the Israeli ambassador in Argentina,” and added that while he was in the US, he planned to visit the Organization of American States (OAS).
After entering the race as a political outsider and promising to “break up with the status quo,” which was personified by his rival and career politician Sergio Massa, Milei’s victory represents an incredible rise for the former TV pundit.
If he follows through on his campaign pledge to dollarize Argentina, the nation will likely enter uncharted territory because, to date, no nation the size of Argentina has ceded control of its own monetary policy to officials in Washington.
Milei took the stage and delivered a fiery speech, promising to usher in a new era of politics for the nation, to thunderous cheers and applause from his supporters shortly after the results were declared.
“Today we turn the page on our history and we return to the path that we should never have lost,” Milei said. “Today we retake the path that made this country great.”
Social conservative Milei, who has connections to the right in America, is against abortion rights and has referred to climate change as a “lie of socialism.” He has pledged to cut public subsidies and close Argentina’s ministries of culture, education, and diversity in order to reduce government spending.
“Make Argentina great again!” Trump posted on his platform Truth Social Sunday, in reaction to Milei’s win. “I am very proud of you,” he wrote.
While the US gets ready for its own presidential elections, parallels to Trump have not gone unnoticed. Milei was successful in garnering attention at home due to his political style, which included brandishing chainsaws and having furious outbursts, as well as the novelty of his beliefs and desire to challenge the status quo.
Supporters of Milei shout “¡¡Qué se vayan todos!!” (which translates to “May they all leave!”), echoing the Trumpian slogan “Drain the swamp” and expressing their rage at politicians on both sides of the aisle. The left is currently in power in Argentina, having been ruled by the right from 2015 until 2019.
Apart from his contentious dollarization plan, Milei’s political agenda entails cutting gun control laws and giving the military command over the prison system; both actions are components of a tough-on-crime strategy. He suggests privatizing the health industry, which has always been in public hands in Argentina, as well as using public funds to assist families who choose to educate their children privately.
Milei’s most devoted fans didn’t waver despite a string of controversial remarks that put him in hot water. When it seemed Milei supported creating a market for organ transplants, he caused a stir, though he later withdrew his statements.
Similar to this, he was made to apologize for referring to Pope Francis in 2017 as “an envoy of Satan.” Pope Francis is an Argentinean politician who is revered in South America.
The world will be watching Milei’s unexpected rise to power carefully in case it signals the return of far-right populism to the area. While leftist leaders in the region, such as current Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Colombia’s Gustavo Petro, broke with tradition to support Massa in the run-up to the election, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro endorsed Milei’s candidacy.
In recent weeks, public opinion surveys have shown the two candidates drawing equal support.
Over the course of the contest against Milei, Massa—a lifelong politician—came to represent the political establishment in Argentina. During his tenure as economy minister, inflation hit excruciating highs of 142% annually. Despite this, Massa contended that the current government was taking steps to lessen the pain, a claim that was rejected by voters weary of a rising cost of living.