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Far-right populist Javier Milei becomes Argentina's new president

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei speaks after his victory over Sergio Massa in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.
Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei speaks after his victory over Sergio Massa in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. Copyright Natacha Pisarenko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Natacha Pisarenko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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The people of Argentina have spoken: TV celebrity-turned-politician Javier Milei will be the next leader of South America's second-largest economy.

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Javier Milei won Argentina's presidential election on Sunday night, beating opponent Economy Minister Sergio Massa with 55.69% against 44.31% of votes.

The far-right libertarian populist won all but three of the nation’s 24 provinces and Massa conceded even before the electoral authority began announcing preliminary results.

His pledge for abrupt, severe change resonated with Argentines weary of annual inflation soaring above 140% and a poverty rate that reached 40%. He will take power on 10 December. 

Once in office, Milei has said he will slash government spending, dollarise the economy and eliminate the Central Bank as well as key ministries, including those of health and education. 

The admirer of former US President Donald Trump has likewise presented himself as a crusader against the sinister creep of global socialism with plans to purge the government of corrupt establishment politicians. 

In the weeks before the runoff, though, he walked back from some of his more unpopular proposals, such as loosening gun controls and sweeping, indiscriminate privatisation. 

Supporters celebrated Sunday night outside Milei’s headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires, drinking beer and chanting as fireworks went off overhead. 

They waved both Argentine flags and the yellow Gadsden flag, emblazoned with the words “Don’t Tread On Me,” which Milei’s movement has adopted as its own.

By wresting power from Massa’s Peronist party which has dominated Argentine politics for decades, Milei’s victory represents a political paradigm shift in the country. 

He is the first outsider to reach the presidency and considerably farther right-wing than anyone who has held the position before.

In the run-up to the vote, Massa and his allies had cautioned Argentines that his opponent’s plan to eliminate key ministries and otherwise sharply curtail the state would threaten public services, including health and education, and welfare programmes many rely on. 

Milei accused his opponent of running a “campaign of fear” and, in his final campaign spot, stared starkly into the camera and promised he would not privatise education, healthcare or football clubs.

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