A sea of blue and white in Buenos Aires celebrated long into the night, after Javier Milei seized a landslide victory to become Argentina’s new president on Sunday. Already, the Western press had gone into overdrive whipping up a frenzy over the country’s new, notorious ‘far-right’ president.
In Ireland for example, The Journal ran with ‘Far-right populist’ elected in Argentina, while The Examiner, The Irish Times and The Irish Independent were all in consensus, automatically attaching the description of ‘far-right’ to Milei.
What makes Milei far-right though is the question. Of course, we are not told, because ‘far-right’ has become nothing more, really, than a lazy media label, and an inert form of reporting, which is quickly tiring us all out and losing its meaning. We have reached the stage where far-right means any view which is right of centre.
The drawing of parallels between Milei and Donald Trump also appears to be irresistible to the media. He is conveyed as something of a Trump mini-me. In an editorial last month, The Irish Times, for instance, wrote: “Milei expressly models himself on Donald Trump: the inflammatory rhetoric is familiar,” adding: “Argentinians have looked over their shoulder at the US experience of Trumpism – and it seems they don’t like what they see.”
Definitionally, one must wonder, how you can be a far-right president, if you’ve secured 56% of the vote, with a margin of nearly 3 million votes. Milei won the biggest percentage of the vote in modern-day Argentina’s history – his vote count of 14.4 million is the largest received for any candidate in the country of 47 million’s electoral history. It may be fashionable to describe Milei as an ‘extremist’, ‘far right’ politician, but there is little will to question whether that description is fair or accurate.
Most people will associate ‘far-right’ by definition, with the things that make the term such a slur, like racism, xenophobia, religious fundamentalism, and extreme nationalism. The idea that Milei is far right, and at the same time a libertarian, is surely, in itself, a glaring oxymoron, and it’s one we should be willing to call out.
The far-right label does not correlate with Milei’s politics, or his own words in his acceptance speech, in which he advocated for “a limited government, respect for private property and free trade,” claiming that, “The model of decadence has come to an end.” Yes, his sentiments may be radical, but they are not far right.
So what is Javier Milei really about? He considers compulsory gender education in schools to be brainwashing, and he has promised to eliminate it. He has pledged to sell off all the State’s assets, to promote “a strong cut in public spending,” and to place tougher restrictions on immigration.
“The State does not create wealth. The State destroys it. The State can give you nothing, because it produces nothing,” Milei famously said, in a characteristic takedown of economic socialism. To remedy the country’s economic woes, Milei has a radical solution: the dollarisation of the country, which would replace the Argentinian currency, the peso, and replace it with the U.S. dollar.
Other Latin American countries, including El Salvador and Ecuador, have taken this approach to decrease rapidly-growing inflation, which has resulted in them experiencing the lowest inflation rates in the region.
He has decried “a society infected with socialism,” and his victory looks like a warning shot to those on the left. He has hammered politicians as being “the main promoters of socialism” and has urged: “We need to remove socialism from people’s minds.”
“We libertarians are the ones who dare to confront the politicians to tell them that they are not the solution; that they are the problem. These politicians are the sort of sociopaths that want to make us believe that we are mentally invaded and invalid in every sense because we cannot live without them,” he said in videos which have been flooded with likes on social media, and have made Milei a social media sensation.
His views on abortion have been doing the rounds on social media too. Reuters says he is “staunchly” against abortion. He is reported to have said:
“When you construct on the basis of an incorrect moral principle, the result is filth.
“How can being able to kill other human beings be a right gained? As a liberal, I believe in the unrestricted right to life based on the defence of life, liberty, and property. I defend life. Biology says that life begins with conception.”
For these policies and views, the flamboyant, wild-haired Milei has been described as a neo-fascist, as populist alt-right – even as a ‘nazi’ in some international media articles. The truth is that he is a renowned libertarian.
He has promoted free markets, limited government, and individualism. The 53-year-old has made a name for himself largely for decrying communism, which along with facism, at its core advocates collectivism and the centrality of the State. His success comes in defiance of the right and the left.
For all of the media’s disdain today, he received the backing of almost one third of the Argentine population in Sunday night’s triumph. Surely, 14 million people cannot all be ‘far-right’ fascists. Clearly there is something amiss with the kind of reporting which amounts to little more than far-right name-calling.
In an indication of the media double standard, Milei’s opponent, Sergio Massa meanwhile, is widely described in media articles as a centrist, despite being a left-wing leaning politician through and through.
It is, though, little surprise that Milei captured victory from the hands of Massa, the country’s current Minister for the Economy. It comes at a time when 40% of Argentina is living below the poverty rate. Inflation has been pushed to 140%. Things are dire.
Historically, Milei is neither left nor right; he is a liberal. And his victory saw the Argentine people defy both the left and the right, with people electing a leader hellbent on sending a message to the country’s ruling class.
The people had a choice between a left-wing economy minister, at a time when the country’s economy is on its knees – and a Libertarian politician who has promised to lead the country out of one of its worst economic crises in decades. And it made a decisive choice.
Milei’s victory could be the start of a revolution. The crowning of “the mad man” – a title bestowed on him by his opponents, on a wave of voter anger, looks like a nation’s rebellion against flawed socialist economic and political policies.
These policies have resulted in abject failure, pushing Argentines into soaring poverty and deprivation. This is not about the ‘far right’, because people from all sides of the political spectrum have been willing to give Milei a go, and are ready to try the radical changes being proposed, which could see Argentina begin to recover. Milei, to his fans, is an economic visionary, who could restore the country to its former glory – Argentina was, after all, among the ten richest countries in the world at the start of the 20th century, right up until the 1950s.
There have been moves to write Milei off before he’s even started the job. Many breathless media commentaries have predicted economic unpredictability and the country falling into deeper inflation if Milei was to win — yet, already tonight, Argentinian stocks are soaring after the economist’s election. As reported tonight, some of the county’s US listed companies are already seeing increases of over 20 per cent.
Argentina has chosen a different path, selecting a leader who chose to wage war on the country’s long-standing, left-wing socialism. The South American nation was ready for change, and we should take notice – rather than simply disparaging those who seem vaguely objectionable as ‘far-right fascists.’