Argentina elects right-wing populist as president

World

Argentina has elected a right-wing populist known as “el Loco” (the Madman) as its new president.

Javier Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist who has been compared to former US president Donald Trump, promised to deal with Argentina’s soaring inflation and rising poverty.

“The model of decadence has come to an end, there’s no going back,” Mr Milei said in a defiant speech after winning 56% of the vote versus just 44% for his rival, economy minister Sergio Massa, who conceded.

It was the widest victory margin in a presidential race since the South American country returned to democracy in 1983.

“We have monumental problems ahead: inflation, lack of work, and poverty,” he said. “The situation is critical and there is no place for tepid half-measures.”

Mr Milei’s plans to fix the economy include shutting the central bank, ditching the peso and slashing spending.

The 53-year-old economist and former TV pundit is staunchly anti-abortion, opposes sex education in schools and favours looser gun laws.

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He used to carry a chainsaw at his rallies as a symbol of his planned cuts.

Mr Milei favours stronger ties with the US and has criticised China and Brazil, saying he won’t deal with “communists”.

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Despite that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wished Mr Milei luck and success, adding that it was important democracy was respected.

Image:
Pic: AP

‘I am very proud of you,’ Trump says

Mr Trump congratulated him on his victory on Truth Social, writing: “The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you.

“You will turn your Country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!”

Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro tweeted: “Hope is sparkling in South America once again” as he celebrated what he called a victory for “honesty, progress and freedom”.

However, Colombia’s leftist President Gustavo Petro said it was a “sad day” for the region.

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