Right-wing outsider candidate Javier Milei recently won Argentina’s presidential election in a close runoff. His opponent, Sergio Massa, conceded defeat in a phone call Sunday evening.
Milei, a career economist, won in a landslide victory. He got 55.69% of the vote to Massa’s 44.31%. The popular vote totals were 14,476,462 to 11,516,142.
That nearly 3 million vote margin of victory represents a mandate from the people of Argentina for Milei’s conservative economic agenda.
“Today we turn the page on our history and we return to the path that we should never have lost,” Milei said as he declared victory. “Today we retake the path that made this country great.”
Inflation in the South American nation is soaring at 143%, while national treasury reserves of foreign currencies are in the red and a recession is looming over the economy.
Miguel Kiguel — a former Argentine government official in the Economy Ministry — said “It is an economy that is in intensive care.”
Much of the problem with Argentina’s economy, in Milei’s view, stems from problems with its currency. Analysts surveyed by the nation’s central bank expect 185% inflation by year’s end.
Prices aren’t only sky-high in Argentina. They’re also volatile and add uncertainty to consumer and financial markets with wildly changing prices week-to-week.
The new president-elect is an economist and author of a number of popular books on the economy and politics of Argentina. He has his work cut out for him over the four years of his term as president.
Warning there’s “No room for lukewarm measures,” the president-elect plans to abolish the peso in Argentina and use the U.S. dollar as the nation’s official currency. A similar dollarization policy in 2000 helped Ecuador stave off its own economic crisis.
In addition to dollarizing Argentina’s economy, Milei is ready to radically reduce the size of government. He plans to privatize as much of Argentina’s government as possible.
On the campaign trail, the economist revved a chainsaw while promising to cut the government down to size. “Everything that can be in the hands of the private sector will be in the hands of the private sector,” he told Bueno Aires station Radio Mitre.