Sun 19 Nov 2023 18.24 EST
Victory for TV celebrity-turned politician catapults South America’s second-largest economy into an unpredictable future
Javier Milei, a volatile far-right libertarian who has vowed to “exterminate” inflation and take a chainsaw to the state, has been elected president of Argentina, catapulting South America’s second largest economy into an unpredictable and potentially turbulent future.
With more than 99% of votes counted, the Mick Jagger impersonating TV celebrity-turned politician, who is often compared to Donald Trump, had secured 55.69% of the vote compared to 44.3% for his rival, the centre-left finance minister Sergio Massa.
“Today the reconstruction of Argentina begins. Today is a historic night for Argentina,” Milei told jubilant supporters at his campaign headquarters in Buenos Aires, calling his victory a “miracle”.
Milei promised “drastic changes” to tackle Argentina’s “tragic reality” of soaring inflation and widespread poverty. He also sent a message to the international community: “Argentina will return to the place in the world which it should never have lost.”
Earlier, Massa – who received 11.5m votes to Milei’s 14.4m – conceded defeat.
“Argentinians have chosen another path,” said Massa, who said he had called Milei to congratulate him on his victory and would retire from frontline politics.
“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,” added Massa, whose Peronist movement has governed for 16 of the last 20 years.
Pro-Milei activists rejoiced at the triumph of their 53-year-old leader, whom they describe as an economic visionary poised to lead Argentina out of one of the country’s worst economic crises in decades.
“[I’m] happy, happy, happy,” said Francisco Jiménez, a 30-year-old delivery driver and Milei activist from Villa Soldati, a working-class area outside Buenos Aires.