December 7, 2023


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ANALYSIS | The Javier Milei phenomenon in Argentina: how the candidate of the anti-system right came close to the presidency

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The political phenomenon around Javier Milei, the anti-system right-wing candidate that has emerged in recent years in Argentina, can no longer be described as a novelty: the presidential candidate has been on the rise at least since he obtained a seat as a deputy in 2021.

But after having become the candidate with the most votes in the PASO this Sunday, Milei seems to have taken another convincing leap, leaving a trail of uncertainty among the traditional political forces and, even more, in the country’s battered economy.

Who is Javier Milei? The right-wing candidate who surprised in the PASO
“I think the main attraction (of Milei) is an anti-system vision, an anti-caste vision,” Juan Negri, a doctor in Political Science and director of the Political Science and Government program at the Torcuato di Tella University, told CNN. “Also the optimistic message that the adjustment is not made by society, but rather by politicians —everyone else is saying something else— and that explains a good part of their triumph,” he added.

Milei obtained 30.04% of the votes in these Simultaneous and Mandatory Open Primaries (PASO), being the most voted candidate in the country (his political force, La Libertada Avanza, was also the most voted). The Juntos por el Cambio coalition obtained 28.28% (16.98% for Patricia Bullrich, winner of the internal contest, and 11.3% for Horacio Rodríguez Larreta), while the official Unión por la Patria obtained 27.27 % (21.4% for the current Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, who won the internship, and 5.87% for Juan Grabois.

Milei was already expected to perform well in these elections, but few expected him to be the most voted candidate.

Alejandro Corbacho, a doctor in Political Science and professor at the CEMA University, told CNN that “Milei has a very simple speech, his message meets the immediate needs of the people and he presents himself as the anti-establishment candidate, but not anti-system In a country that has had bad governments for 20 years, this is attractive to voters.”

“This is a colossal beating of the Kirchner government of an outsider candidate, almost anti-systemic, that devastated. What we call the Latin American pink tide is being punctured, if not punctured,” said Andrés Oppenheimer, CNN host. in Spanish.

The electoral scenario, however, continues to be marked by uncertainty in the face of the general elections on October 22 and the second round, if necessary, scheduled for November 12: the three main political forces in Argentina have each achieved close to 30% of the votes, and it is expected that in the next elections the number of voters will increase (participation was 69% of the standard, below normal, and another manifestation of the same anger of the voters that has led also to vote for Milei, according to Corbacho).

Javier Milei responds to criticism for the assembly of his space 0:28
The competition is now over which two political forces will advance to the ballot.

This is because in Argentina, to win in the first round, a candidate must obtain 45% of the votes or 40% and a difference of 10 points with the second. With Sunday’s numbers, it is an unlikely scenario, and the expectation is which two of the three competing forces will reach the second round.

“I would define it as a choice of three with great uncertainty, because what six months ago was a fact, today it is no longer,” Corbacho said. “Then we have a party that nobody knows, and nobody knows how it can work. We have a government party that should logically lose and yet, due to mistakes by the main opposition party, it could win. And the party that should have won, because of the bad performance of the government, failed to impose itself with enough leeway,” he added.

Thus, everything that happens between now and October will be marked by the discourse, the agenda and, ultimately, the expectations around Milei, a controversial candidate and alien to the traditional party system in Argentina who promises —threats, for his detractors. — Profound and structural changes in a country affected by high inflation, economic stagnation and increasing poverty, among other problems.

María O’Donnell, host of the Conecta2 program on CNN en Español, pointed out that “if Milei’s victory is added to Patricia Bullrich’s victory, we see the emergence of a right and an extreme right with great electoral potential.”

Javier Milei speaks after becoming the most voted candidate 0:54
“(It is) the irruption of a novelty in the system with a very unexpected force,” he said, adding that Sunday’s performance would be “the floor” for Milei, whose support could continue to increase.

The economic effects of the elections, at least, are already noticeable: the official price of the dollar rose from 300 to 365 pesos, more than 20%, one day after the elections, and the Central Bank of Argentina raised the rate.

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