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Causing a seismic shift in Argentinian politics, 53-year-old far-right politician Javier Milei won the nation's Presidential election and clinched nearly 56 percent of the crucial run-off vote, outstripping his left-wing rival, Sergio Massa, who secured 44 percent.
This "unexpected" victory, importantly, has garnered support from politicians who've been known to share similar ideologies, including former US President Donald Trump.
His triumph is being described as a "political earthquake" and has drawn rather optimistic remarks from Brazil's former far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who called it a sign of renewed hope in South America, and Donald Trump, who said that Milei's election will "Make Argentina Great Again."
Following his victory, Milei promised “a limited government, respect for private property and free trade. The model of decadence has come to an end. There is no way back”.
“Today begins the reconstruction of Argentina. Today begins the end of Argentina’s decline. Today ends the impoverishing model of the omnipresent state, which only benefits some while the majority suffers," he added.
While his fans call him "the madman" for his ferocious approach and "the wig" for his moppy hair, Argentina's new president-elect Javier Milei refers to himself as "the lion."
Who is he? Why is he being compared to Trump?
Born to a passenger transport businessman and a homemaker, Javier Milei claimed that he did not like to talk much about his childhood, and in 2018, shared that he had been estranged from his parents, considering them as though they were no longer a part of his life. However, during his political campaign in 2021, he reconciled with both his father and mother.
Milei holds an economics degree from the University of Belgrano, a private institution, and has earned two master's degrees – one from the Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social and another from the private Torcuato di Tella University.
With over two decades of experience, Milei has been a professor teaching macroeconomics, economic growth, microeconomics, and mathematics for economists. He reportedly specialises in subjects of economic growth and has has worked in universities within Argentina and internationally.
His younger sister, Karina Milei, has been a significant figure in his life, managing his election campaigns and maintaining a close bond with him. Regarding his personal life, Milei is not married. He mentioned that if elected president, he'd have his sister assume the role of First Lady.
An 'Anarcho-Capitalist' Economic Policy
At the core of Javier Milei's economic blueprint for Argentina lies a bold proposal:
Substituting the national currency, the peso, with the US dollar.
He has staunchly advocated that the key to quelling rampant inflation, which is currently reaching slightly over 140 percent in Argentina, is to halt the continuous printing of money by politicians. To achieve this, he plans on completely dismantling the Central Bank.
Identifying himself as an "anarcho-capitalist," Milei's libertarian views mark a departure from Argentina's traditional political landscape.
He advocates for loosening labor regulations and envisions a significantly smaller government to stimulate economic growth, which he hopes to achieve by slashing half of the government ministries, including pivotal sectors like health and education.
As a symbol the deep cuts he champions, Milei went ahead and decided that it needed more visual representation, given that he's been seen campaigning with a roaring chainsaw in hand.
His agenda to shrink the government aligns with his fervent call to purge the "political elite" from Argentina's governance, reminiscent of former US President Donald Trump's vow to "drain the swamp" in challenging entrenched establishments. Milei openly admires Trump and often draws comparisons to the former US leader.
Prior to stepping into the public sphere, Milei served as the chief economist at Corporación America, a major Argentine business conglomerate responsible for operating most of the country's airports. His tenure there ended in 2021 when he secured his position as a lawmaker.
Adopting the US dollar as Argentina's currency would lead to a loss of control over crucial monetary policy tools, like the ability to set interest rates, the capacity to print additional money, and would effectively remove a significant factor contributing to inflationary pressures.
However, this move would tie Argentina's monetary policy to the decisions and fluctuations of the US dollar, taking a hit on its ability to independently manage economic dynamics within domestic boundaries borders.
No Abortions, No Climate Change
For Milei, a right-leaning politician, his cultural aspirations are set to shake up Argentinian society. Not only does Milei oppose abortions and other policies for women, but he has vowed to hold a plebiscite on whether to repeal Argentina's landmark 2020 abortion legalisation judgment and has vowed to shut down the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity.
Moreover, he calls sex education a Marxist plot to destroy the familial institution.
Milei has also rejected notions of humans playing a role in the climate crisis, rejects the existence of global warming, and has denounced Pope Francis, calling him an "imbecile" for taking a stand in favour of social justice.
He has also denied the existence of a gender pay gap, shutting down reports that suggest that women in Argentina earn 27 percent less than men, and also faces accusations of ignoring systemic issues of gender discrimination and violence.
Moreover, Milei said he was in favour of the sale of human organs or transplants because “it is just another market.” Milei has previously that under a free market, transplants “would work much, much better”.
A Former Sex Coach, Ex-Rolling Stones Cover Band Singer
Javier Milei's diverse interests include a deep love for music, where he once took the stage as the lead singer of a Rolling Stones cover band named Everest. He's known to appreciate Bob Marley and Verdi as well, with a soft spot for opera, although his singing prowess in that genre might not be top-notch, according to a confidant quoted in news reports by Associated Press.
Beyond music, Milei gained popularity as an economic pundit on Argentine TV, discussing topics ranging from the hardships of inflation to the pleasures of tantric sex, something he used to formerly coach for.
Milei has also thanked his five dogs, particularly Conan the mastiff and four clones of Conan named Murray, Milton, Robert, and Lucas—each named after influential economists.
Milei himself has referred to Conan as his son and humorously referred to the other dogs as his grandchildren. He even claimed that it was Conan who bestowed upon him the mission to pursue the presidency. Moreover, he has also allegedly "taken advice" from Conan.