Argentina elects populist president amid discontent over economy



The Gazette, Colorado Springs


BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA • Right-wing populist Javier Milei will become the next president of Argentina after promising a dramatic shake-up to the state in a fiercely polarized election campaign held amid deep discontent over soaring inflation and rising poverty. With 97.6% of votes tallied in Sunday’s presidential runoff vote, Milei had 55.8% and Economy Minister Sergio Massa 44.2%, according to Argentina’s electoral authority. Presuming that margin holds, it would be wider than predicted by all polls and the widest since Argentina’s return of democracy in 1983. In the streets of Buenos Aires, drivers honked their horns and many took to the streets to celebrate in several neighborhoods. Outside Milei’s party headquarters, a hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, supporters were euphoric. Massa, of the ruling Peronist party, conceded defeat and congratulated Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist who has drawn frequent comparisons to former U.S. President Donald Trump. “Argentines chose another path,” Massa said in his speech. “Starting tomorrow ... guaranteeing the political, social and economic functions is the responsibility of the new president. I hope he does.” With a Milei victory, the country will swing to the right and empower a freshman lawmaker who got his start as a television talking head blasting what he called the “political caste.” Inflation has soared above 140% and poverty has worsened while Massa has held his post. Milei has proposed to slash the size of the state and rein in inflation, while the government minister he was running against warned people about the negative impacts of such policies. The election forced many to decide which of the two they considered to be the least bad choice.