Javier Gerardo Milei has decisively won Sunday’s Argentine presidential elections. It is a historic victory due to the support received by the candidate and for being treated, in Milei’s own words, as “the first liberal president in history.” This feat has been achieved in an absolutely desolate economic and political scenario in Argentina, with an economy on the brink of the abyss and a fragmented opposition, a division that could well have ruined the dreams of millions of Argentines sunk in misery and desperate for a change many times promised that never quite arrived. This Sunday, finally, driven by a vote of a people, and especially of some young people robbed of opportunities and future, it seems that this long-awaited change has arrived. Or maybe not.
You see, the elected president of the Argentine nation will not have an easy job undoing the damage that decades of Peronism, dictatorship and corruption have created. From a prosperous land, a global power at the beginning of the last century, breadbasket of the world and cradle of one of the most fertile cultural scenes not only in Latin America but in the world, we went to a country devastated by corruption and violence, addicted to spending, which resulted in a chronic fiscal deficit, with unleashed social spending, and galloping inflation driven by uncontrolled printing of banknotes for almost 100 years. The result has been the social, political and economic dilapidation of Argentina, with perennial institutional instability (six coups d’état in the last century), an average annual inflation of more than 60% since 1949 (with an estimate of 190% for this year) and a population mired in misery with more than four out of every ten Argentines living below the poverty line.
It is in this context that Milei has been elected president having participated in the elections with a platform based on three premises: 1. A limited government that strictly complies with the commitments it has made. 2. Respect for private property. 3. Free trade.
This implies a clear commitment to the “end of the omnipresent State” that creates masses hooked on public subsidies convinced that only the State is capable of solving their problems. These principles, clearly liberal, will have a double objective: on the one hand, to put an end to uncontrolled inflation, and on the other, to achieve a solid economic and financial anchorage that avoids perpetual indebtedness of the State. The liberal’s star, and controversial, measure would be the dollarization of the country with the elimination of the Central Bank and the establishment of Solomonic spending and debt control measures, which would bring to the country’s economic management a certain level of impartiality in the face of the impossibility of arbitrary monetary devaluations and whose objective would be none other than to provide a more stable system based on prosperity policies that are capable of fulfilling those promises of hope to a youth, until today, forgotten.
But Milei is not going to have it easy since he will face the ruling party, still strong in the legislative branch, and which still controls the majority unions with a considerable capacity for social mobilization. Furthermore, Milei does not have much parliamentary support of his own (only about 37 deputies in the Lower House), and even with his allies from Together for Change, he would not have enough numbers to avoid an official Peronist veto. To this we must add that the support of Bullrich and Macri would not be guaranteed for many of the measures that the president-elect has proposed, making the work ahead in the next two years even more difficult.
To these internal resistances that Milei will have to face, we must add those that may come from abroad since Argentina is leading a clear change on the geopolitical board, clearly placing itself with the West within a context of global reordering. Thus, we must anticipate an increase in hostilities with its two main trading partners in Argentina, China and Brazil. Furthermore, the election of Milei is a clear defeat of one of the main members of the Puebla Group, which will bring with it important changes not only for the country, but also for the region.
The fact is that, no matter how much hope Milei’s victory may be generating, the reality is much more complicated, in an environment not only of political polarization, but of total atomization with a legislature against it (even its allies). The problem, then, is that the expectations of change generated by Milei can fall on deaf ears, not due to a lack of desire and enthusiasm on the part of the president-elect, but due to the political-institutional realities of a country still in the hands of Peronism. rancid. Milei faces a herculean test. This is none other than to demonstrate to the world the validity of his liberal proposals while dismantling decades of corruption and statism, while changing the expectations of an anesthetized but apparently awakened people. If he succeeds, this could be the beginning of a new era of cooperation of the liberal forces in Argentina, marking the path to follow in those parts where the division of the majority still dynamites the possibilities of change.
And, as Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo says, even Peronism leaves us.