The libertarian “lion” Javier Milei, roared loudly and gave the blow of his life this Sunday, November 19, 2023, by becoming president-elect of Argentina with an “anti-caste” discourse and proposals for a radical turn in the economic policy of the South American country.
“Hello everyone! I am the lion. The beast has roared in the middle of the avenue.” This is how “Panic show” begins, a song by the rock group La Renga that Milei has sung at every mass event of his campaign to wake up those he calls the “lions” of a sleeping Argentina and those he promised, as the song says, to be “the king of a lost world.”
His provocative charisma and his groundbreaking way of calling politicians “chorros” (thieves), along with eccentricities such as raffling off his salary as a deputy or openly saying that his Mastiff dogs advise him, have been a magnet to capture the attention of countless young people and those disenchanted with politics (mostly men).
Javier Milei, an ‘outsider’ in politics until 2021, when he was elected deputy, first surprised in the primary elections in August, when he was the candidate with the most votes (29.86%) as the only candidate for the far-right party La Libertad Avanza, ahead of the Together for Change coalition (JxC, center-right) and the ruling Unity for the Homeland (Peronism).
In the first round held on October 22, he came second, with 29.99%, behind the Minister of Economy and governing party candidate, Sergio Massa, whom he defeated this Sunday in the runoff, with 55.78%, just over ten points about his rival.
A “crazy guy” with a messiah complex
An economist of the Austrian School, he defends freedom in any area of life, even those contrary to far-right ideology, such as abortion, homosexual marriage or drug addiction, as long as they are not a burden for the State.
Javier Milei was gaining visibility in Argentine public opinion with constant interventions on television programs, in which he displayed uninhibited oratory filled with insults against the established power. However, he ended up allied to what he called the famous “caste”, to receive the support of former president Mauricio Macri and the former JxC candidate, Patricia Bullrich, for the runoff.
A graduate from the University of Belgrano (Buenos Aires), with two postgraduate degrees and without experience in political matters, Milei has been an economic advisor to various organizations and companies, the last of which, Aeropuertos Argentina 2000.
His image of a rebel in a suit —or wearing a tracksuit jacket from a well-known US company under a leather jacket— and the air of a “rock star” raised more than a few eyebrows among traditional politicians, who considered him a “crazy” with a messiah complex.
However, his arrival in Congress in 2021 began to worry the “caste”, especially when the self-defined “anarcho-capitalist” proposed breaking the monetary status quo through the dollarization of the economy, the privatization of most state companies, the reduction of the tax burden and the freedom to access firearms and to sell organs.
Growth of ultraliberal ranks
His symbol par excellence is the chainsaw, with which he has warned that he will drastically cut public spending, eliminating, and unifying ministries and closing the Central Bank, one of his most defiant proposals.
The explosive socioeconomic cocktail that Argentina is experiencing has been the breeding ground for the growth of the ultraliberal ranks led by this Rolling Stones fan, former goalkeeper of the Chacarita Juniors club and Boca Juniors fan.
He does not adhere to the 2030 Agenda and denies climate change, as well as the fact that 30,000 people disappeared during the military dictatorship (1976-1983), something unthinkable in one of the few consensuses in Argentine politics.
The inner circle of the 53-year-old libertarian leader is made up, in addition to his dogs whom he calls “children”, by his partner, the actress, dancer and comedian Fatima Florez, famous for her imitation of former president Cristina Fernández (2007 -2015); and by his sister Karina, whom he calls “The Boss” and is his main emotional and political support.
His psychological stability has been the subject of criticism and Sergio Massa even asked that the presidential candidates undergo a psychotechnical examination.
But his verbal profanity is what has earned him the support of broad sectors that have catapulted him to the Casa Rosada with their votes.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.