Classical liberal economist Javier Milei has won Argentina’s presidential election, with Economy Minister Sergio Massa conceding defeat on Sunday.
The election result is still yet to be announced but at this stage, Argentina’s Electoral Authority has revealed that 99.4 percent of the votes have been counted, with Mr. Milei securing 55.7 percent of the vote and Mr. Massa with 44.3 percent.
Mr. Milei is expected to take office on Dec. 10. The Buenos Aires Times reported the president-elect told his supporters in his first speech since winning the top job that the South American country’s situation has global significance. He said drastic changes are needed to combat soaring inflation and rising poverty, echoing his promises throughout the election campaign.
“Today, the reconstruction of Argentina begins. Today is a historic night for Argentina,” Mr. Milei said.
“Argentina’s situation is critical. The changes our country needs are drastic. There is no room for gradualism, no room for lukewarm measures.”
He also promised under his care that “Argentina will return to the place in the world which it should never have lost.” One of the wealthiest countries in the world a century ago, Argentina has since become one of the poorest, after decades of high government spending and stagnation.
Throughout the election campaign, Mr. Milei, who leads the La Libertad Avanza (Liberty Advances) coalition, vowed to “put an end to the parasitic and useless political caste that is destroying this country.”
Among his other pledges were drastically cutting government spending, eliminating the nation’s central bank, cutting unnecessary government spending, deregulating private gun ownership, and dollarizing the economy by using the U.S. dollar as the country’s currency.
Inflation in Argentina has soared above 140 percent this year—surging past 100 percent in February for the first time since 1991—and poverty has worsened under the care of the formerly ruling Justicialist Party, also known as the Peronist Party, which advocated for “justicialismo,” translated to “social justice.” Looting and economic collapse have been only a few of the challenges the country has faced.
During the election campaign, Mr. Massa cautioned Argentines that his opponent’s plans to eliminate critical government departments and curtail the state would threaten public services, including health, education, and welfare programs.
However, in his concession speech, Mr. Massa congratulated President Milei, saying that Argentines “chose another path.”
“Starting tomorrow, guaranteeing the political, social, and economic functions is the responsibility of the new president. I hope he does,” Mr. Massa said.
“Obviously, these are not the results we hoped for, and I have spoken to Javier Milei to congratulate him because he’s the president that the majority of Argentines have chosen for the next four years.”
United States Congratulates Milei
In a Nov. 19 press statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated President-elect Milei on his victory and praised Argentina’s democratic process. From 1976 to 1983, Argentina was governed by a military dictatorship accused of committing human rights crimes, including torture and executions. It is estimated between 10,000 and 30,000 citizens were killed. Elections in Argentina were restored along with democracy in 1983.
“The strong turnout and peaceful conduct of the vote are a testament to Argentina’s electoral and democratic institutions,” Mr. Blinken said.
“We look forward to working with President-elect Milei and his government on shared priorities that benefit the people of both countries, including protecting human rights and democracy, addressing climate change, and investing in the middle class.”
Former President Donald Trump, who Mr. Milei has often been compared to, also extended his congratulations to Argentina’s new president-elect in a post on social media, declaring his pride and hope for the future.
“Congratulations to Javier Milei on a great race for President of Argentina. The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you. You will turn your Country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!,” he said.
The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.