Hours after Javier Milei’s election victory, Donald Trump posted on social media: “Congratulations to Javier Milei on an important race for president of Argentina . . . you’ll flip your nation round and really make Argentina nice once more!”
Milei responded by thanking Trump: “Your presidency was an instance for all these of us who defend the concepts of freedom.”
One other hard-right ex-president, Jair Bolsonaro, was additionally fast to congratulate the unconventional libertarian, talking excitedly to Milei alongside his lawmaker son Eduardo on a video name by which the Argentine president-elect invited them to his inauguration.
Milei’s rebel election marketing campaign, fought largely over social media, borrowed closely from the Trump and Bolsonaro scripts. His pledge to put off Argentina’s political “caste” evoked Trump’s anti-establishment “drain the swamp” message.
However the Argentine, a self-styled “anarcho-capitalist” intent on shrinking the state so far as doable, differs from each Trump and Bolsonaro in key elements of his considering and the political organisation behind him.
After Argentines elected Milei to ship “shock remedy” amid the South American nation’s deepest financial disaster in over twenty years, the president-elect faces a special and far steeper problem in workplace than the hard-right former US and Brazilian leaders.
His obvious closeness with them each is misleading. A political novice, Milei has by no means met Trump or Bolsonaro in individual, although he has attended current far-right worldwide political conferences. Trump has mentioned he’ll journey to Buenos Aires to satisfy Milei, the Argentine’s workplace mentioned this week.
“Milei’s election, and Trump’s in 2016, have been a form of primal scream for Argentina and the US,” mentioned Michael Shifter, senior fellow and former president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. “Supporters of each have been drawn extra by their indictments of politics as traditional than by any coverage proposals.”
Among the many “placing” variations between the 2 males, Shifter mentioned “nobody has ever accused Trump of being a libertarian like Milei. Quite the opposite, Trump is the consummate protectionist . . . whereas Milei’s concepts on financial coverage are nearer to these of the now defunct Republican social gathering of [former president] Ronald Reagan.”
Milei is an economist who has written a number of books and located fame on tv chat exhibits by touting drastic recipes for shrinking Argentina’s bloated and inefficient state.
He lives and breathes the economic system, not like Brazil’s Bolsonaro, who had little curiosity within the matter and largely outsourced financial coverage to his finance minister, the free-market liberal Paulo Guedes.
Whereas in workplace, Trump ran massive deficits and elevated the US nationwide debt by virtually $7.8tn, whereas Milei has promised to chop public spending by as much as 15 share factors of GDP.
Governing was extra easy for Bolsonaro and Trump than will probably be for Milei. The Brazilian had been a legislator within the decrease home of congress for greater than 20 years earlier than successful the presidency and had the backing of a serious social gathering, which he parlayed via horse-trading right into a congressional majority.
Trump had the institutional assist of the Republican social gathering, which he moulded in his personal picture.
Milei, in contrast, solely created his La Libertad Avanza (LLA) motion in July 2021. It has no provincial governors, simply 10 per cent of seats within the senate and 15 per cent of the decrease home of congress.
Except for his ardour for libertarian economics, Milei’s political concepts are nonetheless evolving and reveal apparent contradictions: his enthusiasm for banning abortion in Argentina clashes together with his libertarian intuition that the state has no function in residents’ private lives.
Opposition to abortion and a manifesto promise to “restore the status” of Argentina’s unpopular army have been extra central to LLA’s marketing campaign than they have been to Milei’s private model, because the social gathering embraced conservative stances on cultural questions.
“La Libertad Avanza has been evolving right into a significantly extra conservative power than it was when it was born,” mentioned Juan Luís González, writer of a biography of Milei entitled El Loco (The Madman).
He cites Milei’s choose for vice-president, Victoria Villarruel, a lawyer from a army household who’s greatest recognized for creating an NGO to recollect victims of leftwing guerrilla teams within the Nineteen Seventies.
Villarruel insists that Argentina’s army dictatorship between 1976 and 1983 killed far fewer individuals than the determine of as much as 30,000 given by human rights teams, and he or she has pledged to dismantle a memorial centre in a former Buenos Aires army base. Her enthusiasm for increased army spending stands in distinction to Milei’s want to slash the state.
“She has gained much more affect in Milei’s world and in Milei’s head. It’s from her that he’s copying this discourse of apologism for the final army dictatorship,” González mentioned. “There I see the tensions between the Milei who got here from anarcho-capitalism and what La Libertad Avanza has develop into.”
Each Trump and Bolsonaro had comparatively standard household lives and, regardless of mercurial temperaments and turbulent governments, completed their phrases.
However many in Argentina brazenly ask whether or not Milei, who has by no means married however refers to his English mastiff canine as his “kids” and has by no means managed an organisation, will make it to the top of his 4 years in workplace.
Along with his slender legislative base, Milei is extremely depending on a lifeline thrown to him by conservative former president Mauricio Macri and his PRO social gathering. He faces fierce opposition on the streets in a rustic with a protracted historical past of mass protest by labour unions, that are dominated by the long-ruling leftist Peronist motion.
Macri was the one non-Peronist president to complete his time period since Argentina’s return to democracy in 1983, however he was not re-elected.
Milei additionally faces one of many world’s worst financial crises, with annual inflation forecast to exceed 200 per cent this 12 months, authorities coffers empty and a recession looming.
Argentines determined for an answer to the nation’s recurring monetary crises have plumped for a maverick providing radical fixes for the economic system however polls present that the majority voters don’t share LLA’s hard-right social agenda, leaving Milei uncovered if his financial shock remedy fails.
Eduardo Levy Yeyati, dean of the college of presidency at Torcuato di Tella college in Buenos Aires, mentioned: “Trump was a businessman backed by a big faction of the Republican social gathering in a rustic the place any deep change in home issues is tightly managed by Congress, and in a rising economic system.
“Milei is a libertarian technocrat backed by alt-right outsiders and, belatedly, by the correct half of the centre-right PRO social gathering in a stagflationary economic system. The stakes couldn’t be extra completely different.”