Prominent figures of the worldwide extreme right are ecstatic about Javier Milei’s decisive win in the Argentine election, which analysts believe will transform Buenos Aires into a new stronghold for the radical right-wing movement.
Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro celebrated together after their ally from Argentina won by a significant margin over his opponent, Peronist finance minister Sergio Massa, in the country’s presidential election on Sunday. The former US president expressed his belief that Milei would bring greatness to Argentina once again, while Brazil’s former president praised the victory as a triumph of integrity, progress, and liberty. Supporters of both Bolsonaro and Milei anticipate that Milei’s victory will be the first of three right-wing successes, leading to the return of Trump and Bolsonaro to power in 2024 and 2026.
After his victory, Milei shared in an interview on Monday that he plans to visit the US and Israel. He has also pledged to relocate Argentina’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On 10 December, he will be officially inaugurated as president alongside his ultra-conservative vice president, Victoria Villarruel.
Bolsonaro stated that he will be present at Milei’s swearing-in ceremony in Buenos Aires and shared a friendly video call with Argentina’s incoming president. Bolsonaro expressed his excitement and support for the radical libertarian economist, acknowledging the significant task he has ahead not only in Argentina but beyond. Milei thanked him for his well wishes.
In contrast to Bolsonaro, who is a seasoned politician that presented himself as an outsider to gain power in 2018, Milei is a true newcomer to the political arena. He was born in Buenos Aires in 1970 and gained recognition as a blunt economic commentator on Argentinian television before winning a seat in congress in 2021 as a member of the libertarian party Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances). Milei’s unpredictable character, profanity-laced on-air outbursts, and Britpop-inspired hairstyle have solidified his image as ‘El Loco’ (The Madman).
Ultra-conservative leaders from cities such as Bogotá, Santiago, Lisbon, and Madrid expressed their joy at Milei’s overwhelming win against centrist Massa, with a vote count of 14.47m to 11.51m.
The head of Portugal’s extreme right-wing party, Chega! (Enough!), André Ventura, praised Milei’s efforts in protecting society. Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s far-right League, also sent his well wishes. Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain’s far-right Vox party, stated that Milei had paved the way for a promising future for Argentines and all of Latin America.
Katalin Novák, the president of Hungary, offered her congratulations to Milei for their “great victory”.
In South America, right-wing Chilean politician José Antonio Kast praised Milei for his “impressive victory”, stating: “The rebuilding of Argentina begins today.”
María Fernanda Cabal, a senator from Colombia, declared Milei’s triumph as a triumph for “rationality, practicality, and the potential for a resurgence of Argentina”. She believes that once again, the destructive leftist ideology in Latin America has been overpowered.
“Illegal to reword.”
According to Argentine scholar Ariel Goldstein, Buenos Aires is likely to serve as a gathering spot for the international far right and host a version of the Madrid Forum, a conservative conference focused on opposing communism that was established in 2020 by a think tank associated with Vox.
As accolades from the conservative side flooded in, it became evident just how significant Milei’s win was. The former TV personality, now a political sensation, triumphed over his Peronist opponent in 21 out of 23 provinces in Argentina. In Buenos Aires, a historically strong base for Peronists, Massa narrowly edged out Milei with 50.89% of the votes compared to Milei’s 49.1%.
In the city of Córdoba, where Milei hosted his last campaign gathering, the untamed-haired libertarian overwhelmingly defeated his opponent with 74.28% of the votes compared to 25.71%. Similarly, in Mendoza, Milei won with 71.42% of the votes while his rival received 28.57%.
Despite the excitement among right-wing supporters, professionals warned against interpreting Milei’s victory as a significant change towards conservatism in Argentinian politics.
According to Yanina Welp, a political scientist from Argentina’s Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, issues related to culture and identity may have played a role in influencing certain citizens. However, the main motivation of voters was to penalize the Peronist party for their role in leading Argentina into a severe economic crisis in recent years.
“Massa is the minister of economy, and the country has [nearly] 150% inflation and almost half of the country is living in poverty. So it’s quite easy to understand the rejection of the status quo,” Welp said. “More than being in favour or Milei or Milei’s program, this is [a vote] against the Peronists and the current government.”
Shila Vilker, the leader of consulting company Trespuntozero, was uncertain about the outcome of the election between Milei and Massa. As the finance minister, many voters held his government responsible for their economic struggles. However, Vilker was confident that Massa’s attempt to dissuade voters from Milei through a campaign of fear had failed. The strategy aimed to portray Milei as an unstable authoritarian, but it did not resonate with voters.
According to Vilker, individuals chose to make a change. The concept of change was more popular than staying the same, and this overcame any apprehension about what may be familiar or unfamiliar.
On Sunday night, a strong desire for change was evident as thousands of supporters of Milei gathered at Buenos Aires’s famous Obelisk to celebrate a new and uncertain era in their country’s history.
“I believe that individuals are relieved that change is finally on the horizon. The alternative was simply not acceptable; we require prompt change,” stated 19-year-old Justine Navarra Beber, who was participating in her inaugural political rally.
Roman Neveira, a 23-year-old programmer waved a large blue-and-white Argentina flag as drivers cruised past shouting Milei’s slogan: “Viva la libertad, carajo!” (Long live, freedom, dammit!).
Neveira expressed her happiness and relief, noting that Argentina has been facing difficulties for a while. She finds hope in the fact that someone like Milei, who is not a typical politician but has innovative ideas, has stepped forward to take action.
The present circumstances are not easily remedied. We must remain patient, but I am eagerly anticipating their actions.
A man named Marcelo Álvarez celebrated Milei’s victory, declaring it a just rejection of the corrupt politicians responsible for causing harm to millions of lives. “They left people with nothing and now we have emerged victorious,” exclaimed the 60-year-old entrepreneur.
Despite this, Álvarez was uncertain about what could happen in the future with Milei, who is known for being an unpredictable newcomer to politics. Milei’s proposals involve getting rid of the central bank, adopting the US dollar as the official currency, and implementing strict austerity measures that have caused concerns among economists that it could worsen Argentina’s crisis.
Álvarez foresaw that either the situation would improve in the near future or it would significantly deteriorate as the street celebration continued. He expressed concern that their judgement may have been incorrect and they would have to return to this location to protest again in two years.