Far-right Trump-like libertarian leader Javier Milei becomes Argentina's new president

Donald Trump, Elon Musk congratulate Milei on presidential victory as he prepares to take office on Dec 10

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Argentine president-elect Javier Milei addresses supporters after winning Argentinas runoff presidential election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 19, 2023. — Reuters
Argentine president-elect Javier Milei addresses supporters after winning Argentina's runoff presidential election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 19, 2023. — Reuters

Argentina's Javier Milei, a far-right libertarian with a pledge to eradicate inflation, has been elected president of the country with a potentially turbulent future for South America's second-largest economy, The Guardian reported Monday. 

Out of more than 90% of votes counted, with 55.69% of the vote compared to 44.3% for his rival, the centre-left finance minister Sergio Massa — the victory of Milei often compared to Donald Trump — has sparked a potential economic downturn.

“Today the reconstruction of Argentina begins. Today is a historic night for Argentina,” the Mick Jagger impersonating TV celebrity-turned-politician told overjoyed supporters at his campaign headquarters in Buenos Aires, calling his victory a “miracle”.

According to The Guardian, Milei promised “drastic changes” to tackle Argentina’s “tragic reality” of soaring inflation and widespread poverty. He also sent a message to the international community: “Argentina will return to the place in the world which it should never have lost.”

Earlier, Massa conceded defeat and said that "Argentinians have chosen another path.”

Massa also said he had called Milei to congratulate him on his victory before announcing that he would retire from frontline politics.

“Obviously, these are not the results we hoped for and I have spoken to Javier Milei to congratulate him because he’s the president that the majority of Argentines have chosen for the next four years,” added Massa, whose Peronist movement has governed for 16 of the last 20 years.

The 53-year-old leader's victory was celebrated by pro-Milei activists, who believe he is an economic visionary capable of leading Argentina out of a severe economic crisis.

Milei, who will take office on December 10, has pledged to abolish the central bank and dollarise the economy to tackle poverty and inflation, which has left 40% of Argentina's 45 million citizens in poverty.

“I know how to exterminate the cancer of inflation,” Milei said during last Sunday’s final presidential debate which most experts believed Massa had won.

Other prominent members of the far-right worldwide community applauded Milei's triumph, including Jair Bolsonaro, the former president of Brazil, who had supported his campaign and had committed to attending his inauguration.

“Hope is sparkling in South America once again,” Bolsonaro wrote on X, formerly Twitter, hailing what he called a victory for “honesty, progress and freedom”.

Former US president Donald Trump wrote: “The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you. You will turn your country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again.”

His victory was also celebrated by X’s owner Elon Musk, who posted: “Prosperity is ahead for Argentina”.

Meanwhile, his left-wing opponents were stunned and demoralised at the election of a "notoriously erratic figure whose radical ideas include legalising the sale of organs, cutting ties with Argentina’s two biggest trade partners, Brazil and China, and closing more than a dozen ministries," according to The Guardian.