Argentina: what does Milei's election victory mean?

The ultra-liberal populist Javier Milei won Argentina's presidential runoff election by a clear margin on Sunday. The candidate of the La Libertad Avanza party came out on top with just under 56 percent of the vote, leaving Economy Minister Sergio Massa of the left-wing Unión por la Patria trailing behind with 44 percent. Commentators discuss the reasons - and what to make of Milei's radical reform plans.

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Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Voters want a radical break

The Argentinians are taking a leap into the unknown, Hospodářské noviny comments:

“How serious is Milei about his plans? And how many of them will he be able to implement? It's one thing to talk casually about dollarisation on television, where he's become famous for his amusing and incorrect comments on the country's economic situation, but quite another to secure support for such measures in parliament. The Argentinians don't know the answers to such questions, but they don't care at this point. They simply want change after an endless series of bankruptcies, debts, humiliating negotiations with foreign creditors and spiralling inflation. The more radical the better.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Perhaps he can bring positive change

El Periódico de Catalunya gives the new president the benefit of the doubt:

“Milei does not belong to the establishment and he stands for radical change. The question is: in which direction, and the answer is not towards classic 'right-wing extremism'. ... Milei is above all an ultra-liberal. ... And this enigma puts Argentina in unknown territory, which in itself marks a major paradigm shift. If the vociferous Milei is able to reduce his rhetorical excesses, forge reasonable alliances and set a course for liberal democracy, he could be the man to end decades of political corruption and stabilise the economy.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

His supporters will be the biggest losers

Argentina is facing turbulent times, writes Deutschlandfunk:

“Experts fear for the country's governability. After all, hardly any economists believe that Milei's radical promises - above all the abolition of the national currency, the peso, and the introduction of the US dollar - can be realised. Finally, the announced massive cuts in social benefits are likely to trigger major resistance on the streets. A large proportion of Milei's voters will be particularly hard hit by the cuts. ... What Milei cannot be accused of is making a secret of his intentions. The great tragedy is that precisely those who placed the greatest hope in him will be the biggest losers.”

Visão (PT) /

Post-extremist phase

For Visão, Milei's election testifies to a massive breakdown:

“Milei is not just an Argentinian phenomenon. He epitomises what appears to be the beginning of political anarchy, of a post-extremist phase. This is no longer about the far right or the populist right, but about institutional disorder and functional chaos. Argentina's new president is the beginning of something radical and unpleasant. It was the Argentinians who elected him. They know best. The desperation and the dreadful state in which the country finds itself are obvious. ... Argentina cannot continue as before. Bankrupt, socially fractured and politically ruined.”

Politiken (DK) /

A cry of despair

Politiken sees the outcome as a wake-up call that should reverberate far beyond Argentina:

“The best thing that can be said about Milei is that he will be forced to be more moderate. He only has 14 percent of the seats in parliament and also faces strong Peronist unions. Perhaps that's why so many dared to vote for him. This is a cry of despair about a dysfunctional political elite. But it is also a wake-up call not just for Argentina, but also for the rest of us: from the United States to Brazil and Poland, barren populism can return if the political establishment acts irresponsibly and fails to serve the people who elected it.”