Economy & Business - June 2023

ARGENTINA: Milei formalises plans for ultra-liberal shock

While the government of Alberto Fernández is struggling to keep the Argentine economy from falling apart in hopes of avoiding the worst for his Peronist party in October elections, much of the damage may already have been done. Yet another economic crisis has thoroughly disillusioned Argentines and their trust in traditional politicians. Many are increasingly placing their hopes in a dark horse, an outsider with unconventional recipes to fix the deep-seated problems of Latin America’s third-largest economy. Javier Milei, who calls himself an ‘anarcho-capitalist’ for his aversion to the state and blasts politicians as rats, stands a very real chance of becoming the country’s next president in the 22 October elections.

According to the latest opinion polls, Milei is currently the most popular politician in the country and would win the primaries in August by a wide margin. He also has roughly the same amount of votes as the two leading political forces – the ruling centre-left Frente de Todos (FdT) coalition and the center-right opposition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC). The FdT and the JxC run in the primaries with several candidates but would field only one name in the October elections.

Milei, a libertarian economist with a knack for controversial media appearances, is somewhat of a wild card to say the least. Among the leading candidates he is at once the one who generates most hope and most fear. Milei argues that organ trafficking ought to be legalized and abortion is a property rights issue. It’s a film that North and South America have seen before. Milei styles himself like a South American Donald Trump, not unlike Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro with whom he shares conservative values and a liberal economic ideology. The difference is that Milei’s proposals go beyond what mainstream liberals would advocate and that he’s an economist by training, meaning he’d be unlikely to delegate much on the issue.

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