On this Monday bank holiday in Argentina, Javier Milei is not idle. After a night of celebrations in his "bunker" (campaign headquarters), the new Argentine president gave several radio interviews in which he revealed the names of some future ministers: Mariano Cuneo Libarona, a criminal lawyer, in Justice, and Carolina Piparo, deputy of his party "Freedom Advances" (LLA) in charge of Social Affairs.
The ultra-liberal president-elect estimated on Monday 20 November that it would take "18 to 24 months" to manage to control inflation, currently at 143% per year, "if we were to reduce the issue of money today".
Javier Milei also announced a wave of privatisations: the Telam news agency, public television and radio, and the oil company YPF, which exploits the country's hydrocarbon deposits. "We consider that public television has become a propaganda mechanism," he said, adding that "anything that can be in the hands of the private sector will be in the hands of the private sector."
The Repsol-YPF tower in Buenos Aires' business district on November 20, 2023. Agustin Marcarian, Reuters
Anxious to take on the mantle of president, he also announced that he would visit the United States and Israel in the coming days, stressing that it would be a "spiritual experience". During the campaign, the candidate, although a Catholic, surprised everyone by claiming an inclination toward Judaism and having engaged in spiritual exchanges with several rabbis.
Switching from chainsaw to president's suit
On Monday, the president-elect had planned to meet Alberto Fernandez, the outgoing president. "He called me to congratulate me and invited me to a meeting to make the transition as orderly as possible, so that the reaction of the markets would be as orderly as possible," Milei said on air. He then found a moment to converse with former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
The man who proclaimed himself "the first libertarian president in human history" on Sunday night will take office on December 10. He will have to respond to the impatience of his compatriots to bring inflation down from 3 to 1 digits and carry out the promised dollarization of the economy. "The currency will be the one that Argentines choose freely. Basically, you are dollarizing to get rid of the Central Bank," he reiterated.
The Argentine Central Bank, in central Buenis Aires, November 20, 2023. Agustin Marcarian, Reuters
"With 56% of the vote, he is crowned by the result. (...) Nevertheless, I think that very quickly this result and its political weight will crumble. The Argentines expect immediate results and very clearly, he will not be able to deliver them. I think there is every reason to believe that the economic situation will continue to deteriorate and the lack of support in Parliament will very quickly put it at odds," said Gaspard Estrada, a Latin America specialist and professor at Sciences-Po.
A proxy victory for the Argentine right
Indeed, "La Liberté avance", Javier Milei's party, has only 38 seats out of 217 in the Chamber of Deputies. To carry out his plans to close the Central Bank or dollarize, he will have to forge a political alliance with a part of the political "caste" that he has never stopped vomiting, from platform to speech.
Read alsoArgentina's new president Javier Milei promises "the end of decadence"
With the 93 deputies of his coalition (Together for Change, JxC), former president Mauricio Macri, defeated by Alberto Fernandez in 2019 for his calamitous management of the economy, has become the new president's indispensable ally.
An exquisite revenge for one of the richest men in the country who has never hidden his bitterness at having been defeated by the Kirchnerist enemy who won 4 out of 5 presidential elections between 2003 and 2019. During Cristina Kirchner's two terms in office (2007-2015), the opposition between supporters and opponents of the former president became particularly fierce and brutal.
"I think Mauricio Macri is the guarantor (of the new president) but it's a dangerous game. At some point, Javier Milei will want to take full control, but he doesn't really have a solution," Estrada said.
In other words, if Javier Milei has managed to win, it is thanks to the decisive support of the traditional Argentine right. But this dependence risks slowing down the implementation of his project of a radical break with the "caste" that seduced the electorate.
Settling scores in sight
The magazine Nueva Sociedad also notes that "Javier Milei's anti-caste rhetoric - which seemed to be capped at 30% of the vote - has turned into 'Kirchnerism or freedom', which had been the slogan of Patricia Bullrich (the candidate of the traditional right eliminated in the first round, editor's note)".
The authors of this analysis add that "Mauricio Macri saw in Javier Milei's lack of structure and inexperience the possibility of regaining power after the failure of his government: not only will Macri's government provide cadres for the nascent 'mileism', but the latter will depend on Macri's legislators to achieve a minimum of governability."
The victory of the far-right candidate, who successively defeated the traditional right and then the electoral machine of the Peronist party, will therefore confront the exercise of power in perilous conditions.
In a few weeks' time, Javier Milei will be confronted with the impatience of his voters who are demanding a quick end to the economic crisis and also with the desire for revenge of ex-president Macri against his Kirknerist enemies. "It's true that the Argentine justice system is politicized and that we can expect an acceleration of the cases against Cristina Kirchner."
Failing to implement his grandiose libertarian project, where supply and demand would reign over an Argentina finally rid of a predatory and incompetent state, Javier Milei will undoubtedly have to start by playing politics and thus coming to terms with the system.
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