Government candidate Sergio Massa on Sunday evening conceded defeat to libertarian populist Javier Milei in Argentina’s presidential election.
“I contacted Javier Milei, the president that the majority of Argentines elected for the next four years, congratulated him, wished him luck,” the incumbent economy minister said about his ultra-liberal rival on social media on Sunday evening.
Massa said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that he had “proposed to him tomorrow to put in place liaison and transition mechanisms for the change of government, for the normal economic, social, political and institutional functioning.” With 99 percent of votes counted, Milei was well ahead with 55.70 percent to Massa’s 44.29 percent.
The self-proclaimed “anarcho-capitalist” Milei has promised a radical turnaround: He wants to introduce the US dollar as legal tender, abolish the central bank and many ministries and cut social spending.
Government candidate Massa stood for the previous policy of massive state intervention in the economy and extensive social programmes.
“No one so extremist on economic issues has been elected president of a South American country,” economist Mark Weisbrot from the US research institute Centre for Economic and Policy Research said before the vote.
“His extremist views and values go far beyond macroeconomic policy — he hardly acknowledges any legitimate role for government in some of the most important policies that most people have come to see as necessary for a democratic, humane, and stable society,” Weisbrot said.
The radical programme planned by Milei is particularly popular with young people. Many have only known a life in constant crisis mode, are disappointed with the political establishment and want a fresh start. Milei has tapped the rage of many Argentinians at the ongoing crisis and the political establishment. At election rallies, with dishevelled hair and a running chainsaw, he railed against the political “caste” he hated.
The enfant terrible of Argentine politics also wants to liberalize gun ownership, is against the right to abortion, does not believe in man-made climate change and calls Argentinian Pope Francis a communist. The national currency, the peso, continues to lose value against the US dollar and the mountain of debt is constantly growing.