Argentina made political history on Sunday with the election of conservative libertarian Javier Milei as its new president.
The 53-year-old economist and former TV pundit found himself winning the presidential election with 56% of the vote. This trounced his rival Sergio Massa, who is the economy minister for the left-wing Peronist party and received 44% of the vote.
The independent president-elect has shaken a system that was mostly run by the Peronists since the 1940s. One electoral consultant official said Milei’s win “marks a profound rupture in the system of political representation in Argentina.”
As for why Milei was so successful, much of it was credited to his campaigning. As a TV pundit, Milei consistently criticized the Argentinian government for its spending and its dominant political class.
It also doesn’t help that, at the time of Milei’s victory, Argentina was $44 billion in debt to the International Monetary Fund and experiencing a close-to-150-percent inflationary period.
Citizens frustrated with their nation’s lackluster economic conditions were drawn to Milei’s more drastic proposals, which include ditching the peso for the U.S. dollar and nixing the nation’s central bank.
Addressing the crowd after his victory was announced, Milei said that he would help “retake the path that made this country great.”
His phrasing is reminiscent of former U.S. President Donald Trump, to whom Milei has garnered comparisons. Many of Milei’s supporters donned hats with the slogan “Make Argentina Great Again.”
Trump espoused the phrase when he congratulated Milei on his victory, saying, “You will turn your country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!” Similar praise was issued by other Republican and conservative U.S. officials.
Even some Democrats have congratulated Milei. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on behalf of the Biden administration saying the White House hopes to continue “bilateral cooperation based on shared values and interests.”
But liberal praise was few and far between for the self-described anarcho-capitalist. The Peronists, which will remain the largest minority bloc in both chambers of Argentina’s legislature, will likely try to put a stop to Milei’s proposals and ideas.
Many onlookers are curious to see how Milei’s drastic plans will work in the long run for Argentina, should they get past the legislature.