Milei’s question, in the age of Trump and Bolsonaro, to remake Argentina

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Shortly after Javier Milei emerged as the clear winner of Argentina’s presidential election, praise and celebration poured in from a prominent corner. “I’m very proud of you,” said former US president Donald Trump posted on his Truth Social platform. “You will turn your country around and really make Argentina great again!”

Since Milei’s ascension began, Trump’s parallels have shifted. A self-styled “anarcho-capitalist” with a broad libertarian vision to revive a nation long mired in economic dysfunction, Milei is a brash outsider with no political history, strange hairstyle and celebrity which was largely raised through prime-time television antics. . He despises the established establishment – while Trump wanted to “drain the swamp”, Milei is trying to protect the “caste” of political elites – and he promises an all-out political and cultural war against enemies on the left side.

There is an obvious affinity: Milei embraced conspiracy theories about election fraud in the 2020 US presidential election, and his supporters fly the yellow Gadsden flag popular among Americans on the right hand. And as in Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, the opponent who defeated Milei, sitting Economy Minister Sergio Massa, was widely seen as an uninspiring image of order. a tired management, an operator with whom he had the opportunity and his loyalty to move within the political landscape of Buenos Aires had been a disgrace to him. nickname: the “pancake,” flip-flopping his way to leadership.

The rise of Milei’s revolution from the fringes of the extreme right depended on support from the more traditional centre-right. But it was driven by massive public discontent with the sclerotic Argentine status quo, especially from a generation of younger voters who have seen little relief from years of endemic fiscal crisis and debt, and have no more patience for appeals and nostalgia of the institution.

“For only the second time in its history, Argentina has seen 10 years without economic growth,” my colleagues wrote. “During that decade, poverty rates rose from 28 percent to over 40 percent. Now, for the first time ever, even formal workers in Argentina’s economy are below the poverty line. Inflation is close to 150 percent. The peso has fallen, prices change almost every week, and Argentines have to carry large wads of cash around just to buy groceries.”

Who is Javier Milei, the far right president of Argentina?

Milei’s proposed solutions are radical. He wants to “dollarize” a basket case economy that is home to a thicket of different exchange rates and widespread use of the dollar on the black market. He also wants to drastically reduce public spending, eliminate several ministries in the government – including the country’s ministry of women, gender and diversity – embark on a spree of privatization of national companies, and abolish Argentina’s central bank.

For some analysts, such “shock therapy” is necessary to get back into bloom and chart a new course for a country long in the economic doldrums. For other experts, it’s a recipe for disaster. Milei’s dollarization and austerity proposals, noted a statement signed by more than 100 prominent left-wing economists, “overlook the complexity of today’s economies, ignore lessons from historical crises, and opening the door to increasing inequality that is already severe. “

The most pressing reality for Milei, however, is his narrow ability to implement his grand plans for revision. He is expected to enter office in December with only a small group of direct friends in the legislature, while there is not a single governor across Argentina’s 23 federal territories from his party. In his victory speech, Milei said there would be “no room for gradualism” in his agenda, but that he would rely on a center-right center that might not agree with his chain approach.

“Milei takes office as the weakest president in Argentina’s history, despite his clear victory in the second round,” political analyst and consultant Sergio Berensztein told the Financial Times. first question about the management of the system of alliances and agreements raised by Milei.”

Argentina is on course to turn to the right as a Trump-like radical wins the presidency

If Milei’s policies hit roadblocks, critics fear his politics of anger will keep smoldering. Milei’s anger against “cultural Marxism” is to shape his rule, as it did for former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, Milei’s ideological kindred spirit and outspoken supporter. The elected president has been the savior of Argentine greatness, calling the country’s history one of the richest countries in the world at the beginning of the 20th century, and has spent many of the decades since then – especially the years under the control of the powerful publicist. -statist Peronist movement – as an age of deception and failure.

More worryingly, Milei appears to be apologizing for the country’s most recent military dictatorship, which ruled from 1976 to 1983 and was responsible for a covert Dirty War that saw up to 30,000 people, mainly -leftist political opposition, disappeared and killed. He criticizes the legacy of the late Raul Alfonsin, Argentina’s first democratically elected leader after that period of dictatorship, whose image Milei once said he would use as a punching bag.

Milei’s running mate, Victoria Villarruel, is a lawyer who has been campaigning to protect the record of the military dictatorship, and who wants to end the ongoing prosecution of military personnel involved in the ‘ Dirty War and stop the state pension program that was implemented to support families of its victims. Milei’s victory is, in a sense, a confirmation of this revised perspective.

“It used to be toxic for politicians in Argentina to deny their dictatorial past,” Argentine historian Federico Finchelstein told me. But the the current period “shows that the Argentine political culture of dictatorship and the past has declined significantly,” he said, referring to the animus also seen among supporters of Trump and Bolsonaro. “This cannot be good for a democratic future.”

Such nostalgia “in the US and in Brazil also led to coups,” he said.

Steven Levitsky, a leading comparative political scientist at Harvard University, recently said, the New Yorker said, that the main democratic success of Argentina “is the creation of a broad social consensus against military intervention and the protection of human rights . I am concerned that a great achievement is now in jeopardy.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by some in Buenos Aires. “Democracy has not been the norm in Argentina’s 207-year history,” tweeted Uki Goñi, a former journalist. “The norm is conflict, economic chaos, caudillos betraying each other. The last 40 years have been an exception based on a weak consensus on the terror of 1976-83. That cry is gone now. Caudillo’s betrayal is back.”

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