Buenos Aires, November 20
Populist Javier Milei resoundingly won Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday, swinging the country to the right following a fiercely polarised campaign in which he promised a dramatic shake-up to the state to deal with soaring inflation and rising poverty.
With 99.4% of votes tallied in the presidential runoff, Milei had 55.7% and Economy Minister Sergio Massa 44.3%, according to Argentina’s electoral authority. It is the widest victory margin in a presidential race since the South American country’s return to democracy in 1983.
Outside Milei’s party headquarters, a hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, a full-on party kicked off with supporters singing, buying beers from vendors and setting off coloured smoke bombs.
Massa of the ruling Peronist party had already conceded defeat, saying Argentines “chose another path”.
Inflation has soared above 140% and poverty has worsened while Massa has held his post. Milei has said he would slash the size of the government, dollarise the economy and eliminate the Central Bank as a way to tackle galloping inflation that he blames on successive governments printing money indiscriminately.
Milei has criticised China, Russia and Brazil, saying he won’t deal with “communists,” and favours stronger ties with the US and Israel. He said said he wanted to pull back from relations with Moscow. Milei has also expressed support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
Meanwhile, Russia said it had taken note of statements about Russia from Milei, but still hoped the two countries could maintain strong ties. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We noted a number of statements that Mr. Milei made during the election campaign, but we will focus on and judge him mainly by the statements that he makes after the inauguration.”
Indian PM Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and former US President Donald Trump congratulated Milei. Leftist Colombian President Gustavo Petro, meanwhile, said it was a “sad day” for the region. — Agencies
‘Shock therapy’ for economy
- Argentina elected libertarian outsider Javier Milei, who has pledged ‘shock therapy’ for economy battered by triple-digit inflation, a looming recession and rising poverty
- His plans include shutting the central bank, ditching the peso, and slashing spending, potentially painful reforms that resonated with voters angry at economic malaise
- Milei will however have to deal with empty coffers, a creaking $44 billion debt programme with IMF, inflation nearing 150% and a dizzying array of capital controls
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