Who is Javier Milei, the eccentric candidate for the Argentine presidency, and what does he propose?

“Long live freedom, damn it” has become a political slogan that, if 2 years ago it was an almost tribal cry of a small political group, today it seems like the motto of the future president of Argentina. Javier Gerardo Milei, a native of Buenos Aires, obtained one third of the valid votes registered in the Primaries, Open, Simultaneous and Mandatory (PASO) that were held in the country last August; These elections, within the Argentine political system, served to define which candidates will face each other the next day in the Presidential Elections of the American country.

In the electoral meeting, two representatives of the political “bi-coalitionism” that prevails in Argentina – Patricia Bullrich and Sergio Massa – will compete for victory against the controversial Milei, an “anarcho-capitalist in theory” who rose from the most eccentric television gatherings to the doors of the Casa Rosada, headquarters of the Argentine executive.

In a country conditioned by a deep economic crisis, the latest polls indicate a first position for Milei in the first round of the elections, followed by the Peronist candidate, Sergio Masa. What is Milei’s program? Radical neoliberal proposals – such as the dollarization of the economy, the suppression of the Central Bank or the reduction of public services – are combined with conservative policies – defense of abortion, prohibition of sexual education – and with controversial measures such as the promotion of the right to carry weapons and even the legalization of the purchase and sale of organs.

These approaches are integrated into an ambitious 35-year progressive plan that would transform Argentina into a country tailored to other populist leaders such as Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro, with whom many experts compare Milei.

Who is Javier Milei?

Milei is the presidential candidate of the La Libertad Avanza coalition, an alliance of five liberal and conservative parties in which the presidential Libertarian Party is located. Milei was born in the Palermo neighborhood in 1970, and studied Economics at the University of Belgrano; For years, Milei developed his career in various Argentine universities and in the private sector, until he jumped into politics in 2021, when he managed to garner enough votes to get a seat in the Chamber of Deputies of the Nation. Argentina.

Milei gained followers through the publication of books and journalistic columns in different newspapers. However, the neoliberal politician’s springboard was the political talk shows, where his histrionic and aggressive style – Milei has frequently called on his voters to wage “the cultural battle against the lefties” – caught the attention of a part of the Argentine electorate. tired of the political “caste”.

This “caste” – a term coined by the economist – would be represented by the two political factions that have historically taken over Argentine institutions: the Peronist space – with a leftist tendency, represented by the current president Alberto Fern├índez – and the conservative group, which now embodies the candidate of ‘Together for Change’ Patricia Bullrich.

Milei’s eccentricity, along with his histrionics and passionate oratory, is reflected in actions such as the drawing of the allowances he receives as a deputy, or in numerous and unusual statements. However, this media noise hides darker facts, such as the consulting work that the politician carried out, between 1995 and 1999, for Antonio Bussi, an Argentine soldier convicted of crimes against humanity. The denialism of climate change and its anti-feminist rhetoric is part of the agenda of other representatives of the global extreme right, such as Viktor Orban, Jair Bolsonaro or Santiago Abascal; VOX has shown its support for the libertarian candidate, and representatives of the party will go to Argentina to support the presidential candidate during election day.

What measures does Milei propose?

Milei’s proposals have an ultra-liberal economic and ultra-conservative social character; The reduction of taxes and the adoption of the US dollar as the currency of use in the country are two of her key proposals. In his project to “prune the state”, Milei aims to reduce the Ministries considerably and make cuts in public health and education; His idea is to maintain social aid to “finance demand” and not “supply.” However, his most disruptive idea is to close the country’s Central Bank to adopt what is known as the Simons Banking System, a proposal that reduces the State’s control over the economy, as it disables it from issuing currency.

Milei’s speech also stands out for its deeply anti-abortion speech: the candidate rejects this practice even among victims of sexual assault. However, Milei has let it slip on occasion that he would not reject legalizing the sale and purchase of organs in the country: “My first property is my body. Why shouldn’t I be able to dispose of my body?”, stated the economist in a program television show, in which he suggested that an organ market would be effective in ending the demand for transplants. Milei is also in favor of the right to bear arms, and to “militarize” state prisons. Regarding immigration, Milei proposes rejecting the entry of foreigners with criminal records and their deportation, if they commit a crime.

Is Milei going to win?

In the primary elections, Milei was the candidate with the most votes, ahead of the second most voted candidate, Patricia Bullrich, by about 14 points. However, the latest polls published predict a tighter confrontation: according to the demoscopy, Milei would be the candidate with the most votes (he would garner between 25% and 35% of the votes), and he would be followed by the progressive Sergio Massa (26.2% -32.7% of the votes). However, as established by Argentine Law, a candidate will only become president if he obtains 45% of the votes, or 40% with a difference of 10 points over his competitor.

If the polls are correct, a second round would be held in November that would pit Milei against Massa; In this scenario, the mobilization of voters from other political spaces can be decisive in balancing the balance towards one side or the other.

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