Economist Javier Milei, a cable news fixture who was elected to the Argentine Congress riding a wave of anti-socialist sentiment in 2021, was elected the nation’s president on Sunday.
Milei will take office on December 10.
Milei campaigned as a libertarian, capitalist anti-socialist, leading his young political movement, Liberty Advances, against the long-standing Peronist socialist establishment. As a Latin American libertarian, he also took socially conservative positions that do not align with the common understanding of mainstream libertarianism in the United States, such as opposing the legalization of abortion and discouraging business dealings with communist countries, including one of Argentina’s top trade partners, China.
The candidate representing the socialists, current Minister of Economics Sergio Massa, announced to his supporters before official election results had been published that he had called Milei to concede the presidency.
With 86.59 percent of the vote tallied at press time and published by Argentina’s election authorities, Milei received 55.95 percent of the vote, compared to 44.04 percent for Sergio Massa – a double-digit lead made especially notable because Massa defeated Milei in the first round of voting on October 22.
Milei will succeed Massa’s boss, current President Alberto Fernández, under whose leadership the country has experienced an unprecedented economic crisis, fueling skyrocketing inflation, joblessness, and social anxiety. Fernández chose not to run for reelection and the presumed candidate expected to replace him, current Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, also chose not to run after being convicted of corruption crimes in late 2022. Courts found her both guilty of engaging in corruption and covered by prosecutorial immunity laws, so the vice president – who has also served as both president and first lady – chose to abstain from entering the race.
Massa delivered a speech at his campaign headquarters in which he urged supporters to wish Milei luck and work to improve the lives of Argentines collectively.
“I want to say that, obviously, the results are not what we expected,” Massa said – to audible expressions of shock, as the election results were not yet available – “and I have communicated with Javier Milei to congratulate him and wish him luck because he is the president that the majority of Argentines chose for the next four years.”
Speaking over some jeers, Massa added, “I did it convinced that the most important thing we have to leave Argentines with is the message that coexistence, dialogue, and respect for peace before so much violence and disqualification is the best path that we can take.”
#ARGENTINA23RTVE | Sergio Massa: “Los resultados no son los que esperábamos, me he comunicado con Javier Milei para felicitarlo porque es el presidente que la mayoría de los argentinos eligió”
— RTVE Noticias (@rtvenoticias) November 19, 2023
Alberto Fernández posted a message on Sunday night assuring the public that he would aid Milei in organizing an “orderly transition.”
Soy un hombre de la democracia, y nada valoro más que el veredicto popular. Confío en que mañana mismo podamos empezar a trabajar con Javier Milei para garantizar una transición ordenada.
— Alberto Fernández (@alferdez) November 19, 2023
“The people have expressed their will. Millions of Argentines voted and defined the destiny of the fatherland for the next four years. I am a man of democracy, and I don’t value anything more than the popular will,” Fernández wrote. “I trust that as soon as tomorrow we will begin to work with Javier Milei to guarantee an orderly transition.”
Milei’s Liberty Advances Party first entered the Argentine Congress in 2021, giving Milei himself his first political experience and rising at the expense of both the socialist Peronists and the unpopular center-right establishment. The Peronists lost the Argentine Congress in 2021 for the first time since 1983. He has for years condemned politicians as “parasites” and referred to the nation’s career politicians as a “caste” that lives at the expense of the average Argentine citizen. As an economist, he has focused his public rhetoric for years on the wealth-generating power of unfettered capitalism, condemning socialism as an “impoverishing system” that allows for “parasites” in politics to live lavishly while most people suffer. To combat inflation and economic collapse, Milei has promised to “dollarize” the country – make the U.S. dollar an official Argentine currency – and eliminate the Argentine Central Bank. Milei famously appeared on television destroying a piñata version of the Argentine Central Bank to celebrate his birthday.
In an interview with American journalist Tucker Carlson in September, Milei reiterated his disgust with large-government politics.
“The state does not create wealth; it only destroys it. The state cannot give anything because it doesn’t produce anything, and when it wants to do so, it does so badly,” Milei asserted.
Ep. 24 Argentina’s next president could be Javier Milei. Who is he? We traveled to Buenos Aires to speak with him and find out. pic.twitter.com/4WwTZYoWHs
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) September 14, 2023
“Since they [left-wing politicians] intend to live off of others without working, they are tireless in pursuing this because their leitmotif in life is to live off of others,” he said at the time, “so they never cede in this mechanism of appropriation of riches and money and the generation of income of others. So that battle has to be fought permanently, one cannot rest because when you rest, socialism advances.”
Asked to give advice to American former President Donald Trump, Milei said at the time, “from my humble position, I would say [to Trump] to redouble efforts from the same position – don’t give the socialists any respite, not even for a second.”
Milei has yet to speak at press time.