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Argentina makes history with free market libertarian Javier Milei elected as president

Javier Milei will be the President of Argentina from December 10, having obtained 55.86% of the votes.

Milei elegido presidente
Javier Milei | EFE

November 19, 2023 6:45pm

Updated: November 20, 2023 9:30am

Libertarian candidate Javier Milei of the "La Libertad Avanza" (Liberty Moves Forward) party, will become the president of Argentina on Dec, 10. The free market capitalist obtained 55.86% of the votes, with 91.81% of the polling stations counted, a stunning victory for the right that resulted in the defeat of ruling party candidate Sergio Massa, who only garnered 44.13% of the votes.

"Today marks the end of a stage in my political life," said left-wing Peronist Sergio Massa, admitting defeat after the Sunday's election against Milei.

This Sunday's election day saw a 76.37% turnout, the second lowest in history, following the 76.2% in 2007 when Peronist Cristina Fernández won.

Milei gana en Argentina
La vicepresidente de Argentina Victoria Villarruel | EFE

Milei’s victory was celebrated by conservatives including former President Donald Trump and Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Trump wrote: “The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you. You will turn your country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again.”

Bolsonaro wrote on X, ““Hope is sparkling in South America once again,” called the election a victory for “honesty, progress and freedom.”

Even X’s owner Elon Musk, who posted: “Prosperity is ahead for Argentina.”

There was a mixed reaction on the left. Although Milei has called Brazil’s leftist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva a corrupt “communist,” he congratulated the new Argentine president.

“Democracy is the voice of the people and must always be respected,” Lula wrote. “I wish the next government good luck and success. Argentina is a great country and deserves our complete respect,” Lula said.

On the other side, Colombia’s Gustavo Petro, a former leftist M-19 guerilla member expressed frustration, saying, “The extreme right has won in Argentina … [It is] sad for Latin America.”

El Salvador’s right-wing president, Nayib Bukele took the opportunity to fire back at the leftist Colombian leader, musing, “Now say it without crying.”

Javier Gerardo Milei was born in Buenos Aires in 1970. The 53- year old conservative initially came in second place behind Sergio Massa in the first round, after the Peronist candidate swept the open, simultaneous, and mandatory primaries (PASO).

Milei's victory in the second round most likely means Argentina will undergo a bold transformation plan that aims to remodel the South American country's economy in three phases .

Under the slogan 'Liberty Advances,' Milei, and his vice presidential running mate, Victoria Villarruel, proposed an ambitious vision that spans from the economy to education and security. 

In the first stage of his program, Milei would implement drastic cut in public spending and reduce taxes, and implement reforms to spark competitiveness in the commercial, financial, and labor sectors. 

The second phase would implement cost savings by reducing funds allocated to retirements and pensions, as well as a decrease in ministries and social plans. 

The third and final phase of the plan involves the "liquidation" of the Central Bank and comprehensive reforms in the health, education, and security sectors.

Reports have suggested that Milei would appoint Emilio Ocampo to lead the "liquidation" of the Central Bank.

"It's an honor that @JMilei has chosen me to close the central bank and eliminate inflation, the most perverse and arbitrary tax that exists and has contributed to the impoverishment of Argentinians for decades," Ocampo tweeted on X. 

Milei's ambitious proposal generated mixed opinions throughout Argentine society. Some have praised the libertarian's boldness for proposing significant changes while others have expressed concerns about the plan's long-term viability and impact.