Argentina suffocates as far-right Miley seizes narrow runoff advantage

Argentina teeters on the brink of an unpredictable new political era this weekend with an erratic far-right populist dubbed “El Loco” (The Madman) a slight favorite to become president of South America’s second-largest economy in Sunday’s election.

Javier Mille, a television personality turned congressman, had a slim lead over his rival, Finance Minister Sergio Massa, as polls opened on Sunday morning against a backdrop of high inflation and widespread poverty, but analysts said the result was too close. call

Massa, a centrist member of the current Peronist administration of Alberto Fernández, unexpectedly won 9.8m votes in the first round last month to Milei’s 8m. But since then, Millay — a climate denialist provocateur often compared to far-right populists Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro — has been endorsed by several influential conservatives, including former president Mauricio Macri and third-place candidate Patricia Fulrich. Condemned Milei’s “vile and dangerous” proposals.

Miley hopes to woo voters in the weeks after the October referendum with her radical views, which include closing a dozen ministries, cutting ties with Brazil and China, Argentina’s two biggest trading partners, and denouncing Argentina. The Pope is “the left son of a bitch”.

“This is the most important election in the last 100 years,” Miley declared This week, Argentina is urging voters to oust Peronist politicians who have “criminalized” ruining our lives for 16 of the last 20 years.

He said: “Let faith conquer fear. There is hope for a better country.

Massa has struggled in recent weeks to focus voters’ minds on Miley’s instability rather than the economic failures of his government, under which four in 10 Argentines live in poverty and inflation soars to more than 140%.

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“Miley’s personality gives Massa a path to the presidency,” said Juan Cruz Díaz, managing director of the Cefitas Group, a Buenos Aires consultancy.

However, given Argentina’s economic woes, experts say concerns about Miley’s mood may not be enough to save Massa’s campaign. “It’s a failed government with record inflation and he’s the minister of the economy,” said Federico Finzelstein, an Argentine historian who studies the new wave of right-wing populist leaders including Trump, Bolsonaro and Miley. “So [people think]: ‘Between a terrible thing and a madman, let’s be mad, for it is better than a terrible thing.

Finzelstein, who works at New York’s New School for Social Research, suspected that most voters were drawn to Miley’s far-right views or foul-mouthed style. “But you have two bad candidates, and in Argentina the question is: ‘Which is the lesser evil?’

A Brazilian newspaper said Many of the undecided voters deciding the election saw their choice between Dracula and Frankenstein, represented by Mary Shelley’s mad scientist Miley.

Observers are divided on what a Miley presidency will look like. The wild-haired celebrity economist – who entered politics after being elected to Congress in 2021 – has vowed to abolish Argentina’s central bank, replace its currency with the dollar and cut government spending by 14%. On the campaign trail he displayed a chainsaw to symbolize his desire to eliminate spending and corruption. His vice presidential running mate, Victoria Villarreal, has ties to members of Argentina’s murderous 1976-83 dictatorship and has controversially questioned the consensus on the number of people killed by that regime.

But the hard-right libertarian La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances), which only controls 38 of the 257 seats in the lower house and 8 of the 72 seats in the Senate – Díaz suspects his party, La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances), will have his most political “firepower”. . Intensive programs if selected.

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“Miley doesn’t have a governor, Milley doesn’t have a mayor, and his presence in Congress is very limited. He faces strong opposition from social movements. So I don’t know how much major reforms are possible in the first two years,” said Díaz, adding that traditional politicians like Macri are key to his administration. He moderated him, speculating that might play a role.

Sergio Massa campaigns in Buenos Aires. Photo: Emiliano LaSalvia/AFP/Getty Images

Ariel Goldstein, an Argentine sociologist who has written books on Bolsonaro and Latin America’s authoritarian resurgence, said a Miley victory would lift fellow right-wing populists around the world. “Buenos Aires could become a new mecca for the global far-right,” Goldstein said, predicting a Miley victory would spark deep “social conflict” as protesters protested his cuts.

That view was echoed by more than 100 leading economists ahead of the election, who warned that a Miley presidency would cause economic “disaster” and social chaos.

Finzelstein said one of her biggest fears was Miley. “He is more extreme and unstable than Bolsonaro and Trump. So what this person can do is very unpredictable. [in power],” he said.

“We’re talking about someone who is prone to sudden mood swings, very unstable and, according to some journalistic studies, even has a dead dog as a political consultant. It sounds like a bad joke – but it’s not,” Finzelstein added.

Latin American left-wing leaders have also sounded the alarm in recent days, with Colombia’s President Gustavo Pedro telling Argentine voters a choice between “hope and savagery” and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. persuasive Argentina elects a president who “loves democracy and respects institutions.”

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Conservative figures include former Mexican presidents Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox, Ivan Duque of Colombia, Sebastian Piñera of Chile, and Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. He supported Mili’s campaign as a way to “democratically eliminate” the “perverse economic policies” of Massa’s political movement. Vargas Llosa has a poor record of backing presidential hopefuls who have previously defeated defeated right-wing candidates, including Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Chile’s Jose Antonio Caste and Peru’s Keiko Fujimori.

Miley’s allies reject the portrayal of her as an unbalanced powder keg, though they don’t deny that their leader is seeking counseling. His clones are mastiffs.

“They will say whatever they want about us. They say we are Nazis … we laugh it off. Think whatever you want,” his close associate Lilia Lemoine said in a recent interview, dismissing the notion that Miley was a terrorist.

Lemoine, cosplayer-turned-congresswoman, Miley earned the nickname “El Loco” because she was so emotional.” “That’s not bad. I mean, you have to be a little crazy to take the risk to go against this corruption,” he said.

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