Far-right politician Javier Milei, who was not considered the favorite in the second round of Argentina's presidential elections, unexpectedly won with more than 56% of the vote. His rival, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, admitted defeat and wished success to the new leader: “Obviously, the results are not what we hoped for, and I spoke to Javier Milei to congratulate him and wish him well, because he is the president, whom the majority of Argentines have elected for the next four years,” Massa said.
The 53-year-old TikTok star, musician, economist and TV host with tousled hair and bushy sideburns has been compared to former US President Donald Trump and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro due to his edgy style and controversial statements. He, in particular, called for “throwing away the sick peso for the sake of the US dollar” and promised to burn the Central Bank to end the “cancer of inflation.”
As AFP recalls, Milei spoke out against abortion, for carrying firearms, promised to sever ties with Argentina's key trading partners - China and Brazil, and also questioned the number of victims of the military dictatorship and denied that climate change is caused by human activity.
He toned down his rhetoric ahead of the runoff to appeal to more moderate voters, but early in the campaign he took to the stage with a chainsaw running, symbolizing the sweeping changes he plans to bring to the economically troubled state.
His words about introducing the US dollar as the country's official currency were greeted with applause from supporters, while many economists spoke of financial disaster. No matter - in a country where annual inflation now exceeds 140% and two out of five people live in poverty, his victory proves that Argentines are fed up with traditional politics and economic disasters - and are ready to try something new in an attempt to make their lives better.