Javier Milei won Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday, pushing his country to the right with a bombastic anti-establishment campaign that drew attention comparisons to that of former US President Donald Trump – all against a backdrop of one of the highest inflation rates in the world.
His rival Sergio Massa conceded the run-off on Sunday evening in a short speech even before the official results were announced. “Milei is the president-elect for the next 4 years,” Massa said, adding that he had already called Milei to congratulate him.
After his election victory, Milei told a local radio station that he will visit the United States and Israel before taking office in December.
His trip to the United States will have “a spiritual connotation” as he intends to visit his “rabbi friends,” he said.
When asked about his commitments, Milei replied that in the next few days he will take a plane to the United States and then go to Tel Aviv, via New York.
“We discussed this yesterday with the Israeli ambassador to Argentina,” he said, adding that he plans to visit the Organization of American States (OAS) during his stay in the United States.
Milei’s victory marks a remarkable rise for the former TV commentator, who entered the race as a political outsider with a promise to “break with the status quo” – exemplified by his rival Sergio Massa, a career politician.
His campaign promise todollarize Argentina, if implemented, is expected to push the country into new territory: no country the size of Argentina has ever handed over the reins of its monetary policy to decision-makers in Washington.
Shortly after the results were announced, Milei was greeted by thunderous cheers and applause from his supporters as he took to the stage and delivered a fiery speech, pledging to lead the country into a new political era.
“Today we turn the page on our history and take back the path we should never have lost,” Milei said. “Today we resume the path that made this country great”.
Voters go to the polls in Argentina’s presidential election
Milei, a social conservative with ties to the American right, opposes abortion rights and has called climate change a “lie of socialism.” You have promised to cut public spending by closing Argentina’s ministries of culture, education and diversity and eliminating public subsidies.
“Make Argentina great again!” Trump posted Truth Social Sunday on his platform, reacting to Milei’s victory. “I am very proud of you,” he wrote.
The similarities to Trump have not gone unnoticed in the United States as it prepares for the presidential election. Milei managed to attract attention at home not only for his political style – which included the use of chainsaws and outbursts of anger – but also for the novelty of his positions and desire to upset the status quo .
Echoing Trump’s slogan, “Drain the swamp,” Milei’s supporters chant “¡¡Qué se vayan todos!!” which translates as “Let everyone go!” – an expression of anger towards politicians on both sides of the spectrum. The Argentine left is currently in government, following the right-wing government from 2015 to 2019.
Outside of his controversialdollarization plan, Milei’s political agenda includes reducing gun control regulations and transferring authority over the prison system from civilians to the military; both measures are part of a tough on crime approach. He proposes using public funds to support families who choose to educate their children privately and even privatizing the healthcare sector, which in Argentina has always been in public hands.
Several explicit comments landed Milei in trouble, without discouraging his most ardent supporters. He sparked controversy when Milei appeared to be in favor of opening a market for organ transplants, although he later retracted his statements. He was similarly forced to apologize after calling Pope Francis, who comes from Argentina and is seen as an icon of progressive politics in South America, “an envoy of Satan” in 2017.
Milei’s unexpected political rise will be closely scrutinized around the world as a potential sign of a resurgence of far-right populism in the region. Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro supported Milei’s candidacy, while left-wing leaders in the region – including current Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Colombia’s Gustavo Petro – abandoned their tradition of non-intervention to support Massa in the period preceding the elections.
Public opinion polls had shown the two candidates neck and neck in recent weeks.
The candidacy of Massa, a longtime politician, came to represent the Argentine political establishment in the course of the race against Milei. Inflation reached painful levels during his tenure as Economy Minister, at 142% year-on-year, but Massa argued that the current government’s actions were working to mitigate the pain – an argument he failed to convince voters exhausted by the cost of living crisis.
This is breaking news and will be updated.