In a historic and polarizing presidential election in Argentina, far-right leader Javier Milei secured a resounding victory, marking a significant shift to the right for the South American nation. The fiercely contested campaign centered around promises of a drastic overhaul of the state to address escalating inflation and increasing poverty.
With 99.4% of votes tallied in the presidential runoff, Milei garnered an impressive 55.7%, while Economy Minister Sergio Massa trailed with 44.3%, according to Argentina’s electoral authority. This victory margin is the widest in a presidential race since the country’s return to democracy in 1983.
Celebrations erupted in the streets of Buenos Aires, with honking horns and jubilant crowds waving Argentine flags and the distinctive yellow Gadsden flag, symbolizing Milei’s movement with the words “Don’t Tread On Me.” The atmosphere outside Milei’s party headquarters resembled a full-fledged party, complete with singing, beer vendors, and colored smoke bombs.
In his victory speech, Milei, often compared to former US President Donald Trump, declared the “reconstruction of Argentina begins today.” He emphasized the critical state of the country, advocating for drastic changes and dismissing the notion of gradualism or lukewarm measures.
Massa, of the ruling Peronist party, conceded defeat, acknowledging that Argentines had “chosen another path.” He urged the new president to uphold political, social, and economic functions, highlighting the responsibilities that lie ahead.
Milei’s proposed reforms include slashing the size of the government, dollarizing the economy, and eliminating the Central Bank to combat soaring inflation. The president-elect also holds conservative social views, opposing sex education in schools and abortion, despite its legalization in 2020.
This election signifies a sharp rightward turn for Argentina, with Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist, ascending to the presidency. His victory reflects the public’s demand for change, with many expressing weariness and frustration through their votes.
The campaign highlighted concerns about the potential impact of Milei’s plans on public services, health, education, and welfare programs. Massa raised alarms about his opponent’s aggressive rhetoric and questioned his mental acuity, contributing to a divisive and contentious atmosphere.
As Milei takes the reins, Argentina braces for a new era marked by a departure from established norms. The president-elect’s promises to address economic challenges and implement sweeping changes will undoubtedly shape the nation’s trajectory in the coming years. The international community, including figures like former President Trump and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has offered both congratulations and keen interest in the unfolding developments in Argentina.