Javier Milei Wins Presidential Election in Argentina

Posted by on Nov 30, 2023 in Stuff You Should Know, World History

On November 19, 2023, Javier Milei was elected the new president of Argentina. He won close to 56 percent of the votes in a run-off against the economy minister Sergio Massa. Massa won only 44 percent of the vote. This result was unexpected, and Milei’s victory came as a surprise to many, as he is a political newcomer.  

Economic Woes Lead to Gridlock

Concerns about the economy drove many voters to support Milei. Argentina is currently in a deep economic crisis. Nearly 40 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty. Also, annual inflation, or the rate at which prices increase over time, is at an extremely high 143 percent.  

Milei, who is a libertarian member of the Freedom Advances Party, wants to greatly reduce the role of government in Argentina. The centerpiece of his policy is to shift control of the economy away from the government and toward the private sector. His plans include drastically cutting government support for public works including ongoing projects. Milei also plans to privatize Argentina’s state energy company and public broadcasters. (To privatize means to convert government-owned factories and other properties to private ownership.)  

Honour guards in front of the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Honor guards in front of the Argentine presidential palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina..

Milei has proposed economic plans which many of his critics consider extreme. These include making the United States dollar the national currency of Argentina, abolishing the nation’s Central Bank, and cutting welfare payments. He also supports closing the government education ministry. Milei argues that these changes will help to curb spending and very high inflation. 

Milei’s victory signals a desire for change among voters who are unhappy with established political parties. Milei’s aggressive style and promise to reduce the power of the political elite appealed to voters seeking a new direction for Argentina. Milei proclaimed his win as a new era for the country. 

Potential Gridlock 

Despite Milei’s wide margin of victory, some commentators remain cautious about how much he will be able to accomplish. Milei’s Freedom Advances Party holds a small number of seats in Argentina’s Congress. This means he will need to negotiate with the same politicians he criticized during his campaign. Despite his anti-establishment stance, Milei does have a history of resolving differences with political figures when necessary to achieve some of his goals. 

Milei and his Vice President Victoria Villarruel are set to be sworn in on December 10, 2023, for a four-year term.  

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