Argentina voted in run-off presidential election, Milei Wins

Argentina voted in run-off presidential election, Milei Wins

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Argentina voted in run-off presidential election, Milei Wins

Economy Minister Sergio Massa, leading the Peronists, is facing libertarian rival Javier Milei at the Argentine Sunday election runoff

Argentina voted in a presidential run-off on Sunday, with polling stations open from 08:00 a.m. local time (11:00 a.m. GMT) and closed at 06:00 p.m. (09:00 p.m. GMT).

Economy Minister Sergio Massa, leading the Peronists, is facing libertarian rival Javier Milei at the Argentine Sunday election runoff.

The pair are running neck and neck in the latest opinion polls, though Massa garnered 36.68% of the vote at the first round on October 22, while Milei scored 29.98%

Javier Milei has now won Argentina’s presidential elections in provisional results, wrenching his country to the right with a bombastic anti-establishment campaign that drew comparisons to former US President Donald Trump – all against the backdrop of one of the world’s highest inflation rates.

His rival Sergio Massa conceded the run-off vote on Sunday evening in a brief speech even before official results were announced. “Milei is the president elected for the next 4 years,” said Massa, adding that he had already called Milei to congratulate him.

Provisional results so far show Milei with over 55% of votes (13,781,154) with more than 94% of votes counted, according to data from the country’s National Electoral Chamber, which has not yet declared an official winner.

Milei’s victory marks an extraordinary rise for the former TV pundit, who entered the race as a political outsider on a promise to “break up with the status quo” – exemplified by Sergio Massa.

His campaign promise to dollarize Argentina, if enacted, is expected to thrust the country into new territory: no country of Argentina’s size has previously turned over the reins of its own monetary policy to Washington decision makers.

Milei, a social conservative with ties to the American right, opposes abortion rights and has called climate change a “lie of socialism.” He has promised to slash government spending by closing Argentina’s ministries of culture, education, and diversity, and by eliminating public subsidies.

“Make Argentina great again!” Trump posted on his platform Truth Social Sunday, in reaction to Milei’s win. “I am very proud of you,” he wrote.

Similarities to Trump have not gone unnoticed in the United States as it prepares for its own presidential elections. Milei succeeded in attracting attention at home not only because of his political style – including wielding chainsaws and raging outbursts – but also because of the novelty of his positions and eagerness to upset the status quo.

Echoing the Trumpian slogan, ‘Drain the swamp’, Milei’s supporters shout “¡¡Qué se vayan todos!!” which translates as “May they all leave!” – an expression of fury at politicians from both sides of the spectrum. Argentina’s left is currently in government, following rule by the right from 2015 to 2019.

Outside of his controversial plan for dollarization, Milei’s political program includes slashing regulations on gun control and transferring authority over the penitentiary system from civilians to the military; both measures 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 health sector, which in Argentina has always been in public hands.

Several outspoken comments landed Milei in hot water, without deterring his most ardent supporters. He triggered an uproar when it appeared Milei was in favor of opening a market for organ transplants, although he later retracted his declarations. He was similarly forced to apologize after calling Pope Francis, who is from Argentina and is seen as an icon of progressive politics in South America, “an envoy of Satan” in 2017.

Milei’s unexpected political ascent 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 endorsed Milei’s candidacy, while leftist leaders in the region – including current Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Colombia’s Gustavo Petro – abandoned a tradition of non-intervention to back Massa in the election run-up.

Public opinion polls had shown the two candidates neck-and-neck in recent weeks.

The candidacy of Massa, a lifelong politician, came to represent Argentina’s political establishment over the course of the race against Milei. Inflation reached painful heights during his tenture as economy minister, at 142% year on year, but Massa argued that the current government’s actions were working to temper the pain – an argument that failed to convince voters exhausted by a cost-of-living crisis.