Argentina is enacting measures to curb the rise of economist Javier Milei and his followers from the resurgent Peronist movement.

Following a poor performance in Argentina’s open primaries in August, the Peronist party of Argentina made a strong comeback this week. In the ever-changing landscape of the presidential election, the quiet economy minister, Sergio Massa, achieved a surprising victory over libertarian candidate Javier Milei. Massa received 36.6% of the vote, while Milei only received 29.9%.

The significant gap was insufficient to prevent a second round of voting on November 19th between two extremely different candidates. Despite facing challenges such as high inflation and a poverty rate of 40%, Massa easily defeated Milei, who had gained unexpected success in the previous election with his proposals to adopt the US dollar as currency and legalize the sale of organs.

However, even after the primaries, Milei’s party continued to put forward extreme policy ideas in order to remain in the public spotlight. These proposals included a law requiring women to inform men if they become pregnant after having sexual relations with them, and giving men 15 days to decide whether they will provide lifetime economic support as a counterbalance to a woman’s right to have an abortion. This strategy may have ultimately hindered Milei’s chances of becoming president.

On Monday, political commentator Ernesto Tenembaum stated that while madness may bring some benefits, there is a limit and going beyond that point can instill fear in people.

Instead of retaliating against Milei, Massa increased his campaigning efforts by meeting and interacting with people in the traditional Peronist stronghold of the industrial area near the capital, where 15 million people reside. However, he maintained his usual monotone delivery, which even his supporters acknowledge can be unexciting.

Massa’s calm and soothing voice, along with his pledge to collaborate with members of other political parties if he wins the election, appears to have been effective, particularly in the crucial electoral region of Buenos Aires. He received 43% of the vote, while his opponent Milei only received 26 points.

Axel Kicillof – the governor of Buenos Aires province, who was re-elected on Sunday – proved to be the Peronists’ secret weapon, touring tirelessly and inviting opposition politicians to support Massa.

Kicillof emphasized the importance of separating Massa from the disliked two-time president and current vice-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whom Milei supporters strongly oppose. He stated that the results of the primary election showed that Peronism needed to move away from its past.

“I believe it is time to usher in a new era. Relying on [party founders Juan] Perón and Eva is no longer sustainable,” stated Kicillof. “It’s reminiscent of aging rock bands constantly performing their old hits. We need to create a fresh tune, not one that is already familiar to us,” added the 52-year-old, who has become the forefront of a younger generation of Peronists.

Massa used his role as economy minister to secure a $7.5 billion loan from the IMF and introduce temporary social assistance measures to alleviate the impact of inflation, currently at around 150%. These measures include a VAT refund on essential items directly deposited into individuals’ bank accounts.

According to Tenembaum, Milei made a mistake by persistently trolling his fellow countryman, Pope Francis, following his primary victory in August.

During this instance, he was under close observation by all. The leading political entities, who had previously allowed him to go about his business, recognized him as a potential threat and turned him into a vulnerable target. “Despite all odds, Argentine society made the decision to combat insanity,” he stated.


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