Argentina’s presidential election on November 19 marked a significant shift in the country’s political trajectory, as voters elected Javier Milei, a right-wing libertarian. With a resounding victory, Milei secured nearly 56% of the vote, outperforming his opponent, Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who received just over 44%. Milei’s triumph reflects the public’s frustration with Argentina’s existing political establishment and their desperation for economic reform in the face of soaring inflation and rising poverty.
In Buenos Aires, hundreds of Milei supporters celebrated this historic win, echoing Milei’s popular criticism of the political elite. The support for Milei, particularly among the youth, highlights a generational desire for radical change in a country that has been plagued by economic crises.
Milei’s victory is poised to bring profound changes to Argentina’s economic and institutional structures. His campaign centered on a promise of economic “shock therapy,” including plans to shut down the central bank, abandon the peso in favor of dollarization, and implement severe spending cuts. These proposed reforms aim to address Argentina’s critical economic challenges, including near 150% inflation, a hefty $44 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund, and stringent capital controls.
Beyond economics, Milei’s platform also emphasized security reforms, with proposals like reducing the legal age of responsibility, barring entry to foreigners with criminal records, and deregulating the firearms market. These policies aim to restore the “professional and moral authority” of security forces and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to crime.
Milei’s foreign policy stance has been controversial, with initial declarations of breaking ties with Brazil and China, Argentina’s major trade partners. However, he later clarified his commitment to international trade and private-sector-led trade relations. Milei has also expressed a desire to withdraw Argentina from the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and reject joining the BRICS group of emerging economies.
In education and health, Milei has proposed merging several ministries into a new “Human Capital” ministry, advocating for educational vouchers and a shift toward an insurance-based public health system. He also supports protecting a child “from conception,” indicating opposition to voluntary pregnancy termination, a legal right since 2020 in Argentina.
Milei’s rhetoric has challenged the consensuses built after Argentina’s military dictatorship, questioning many agreements from the democratic transition and denying state terrorism during that period. This stance, along with other radical views, underscores the significant changes Milei’s presidency might bring to Argentina’s political, economic, and social landscape.
Javier Milei’s election as Argentina’s president represents a bold and potentially transformative move by the electorate. His radical proposals, while resonating with many voters, also bring uncertainty about Argentina’s future direction, both domestically and in its international relations.