Milei wins Argentina’s presidency, promises ‘drastic’ changes
DANIEL POLITI AND DAVID BILLER
Populist Javier Milei resoundingly won Argentina’s presidential election Sunday, swinging the country to the right following a fiercely polarized campaign in which he promised a dramatic shakeup to the state to deal with soaring inflation and rising poverty. With 99.4 per cent of votes tallied in the presidential runoff, Milei had 55.7 per cent and Economy Minister Sergio Massa 44.3 per cent, according to Argentina’s electoral authority. It is the widest victory margin in a presidential race since the South American country’s return to democracy in 1983. In the streets of Buenos Aires, drivers honked their horns and many took to the streets to celebrate. Outside Milei’s party headquarters, a hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, a party kicked off with supporters singing, buying beers from vendors and setting off coloured smoke bombs. They waved Argentine flags and the yellow Gadsden flag, emblazoned with the words “Don’t Tread On Me,” which Milei’s movement has adopted. Inside, the self-described anarcho-capitalist who has been compared to former U.S. president Donald Trump, delivered his victory speech, saying the “reconstruction of Argentina begins today.” “Argentina’s situation is critical. The changes our country needs are drastic. There is no room for gradualism, no room for lukewarm measures,” Milei told supporters, who chanted “Liberty, liberty!” and “Let them all leave” in a reference to the country’s political class. Massa of the ruling Peronist party had already conceded defeat. With a Milei win, the country will take a shift rightward and a freshman lawmaker who got his start as a television talking head blasting what he called the “political caste” will assume the presidency. Inflation has soared above 140 per cent and poverty has worsened while Massa has held his post. Milei has said he would slash the size of the government, dollarize the economy and eliminate the Central Bank as a way to tackle galloping inflation that he blames on successive governments printing money indiscriminately in order to fund public spending.