The 53-year-old far-right outsider Javier Milei has been elected president of Argentina.
After practically all ballots were tallied, Milei emerged victorious in the pivotal run-off, holding a nearly 56% lead over his left-wing opponent, Sergio Massa, who had 44%.
The win of the radical newcomer has been referred to as “a political earthquake”.
Politicians who share the same views have praised it, including US ex-President Donald Trump, who said that Milei will “Make Argentina Great Again”.
According to Jair Bolsonaro, the former leader of Brazil, “hope would shine again in South America”.
Known by his detractors as “El Loco” (the madman), Milei has advocated for significant reforms, such as substituting the US dollar for the peso and “blowing up” the central bank to stop it from printing more money, which he claims is the main cause of inflation.
Along with reducing welfare payments, he has suggested dissolving the ministries of women, culture, health, and education in order to reduce bureaucracy.
Regarding social matters, the president-elect intends to allow the sale and purchase of human organs, relax gun rules, and outlaw abortion, which was made legal in Argentina in 2020.
The election of Milei coincides with a severe economic crisis that has caused yearly inflation to soar to 143% and 40% of Argentines to live in poverty.
Although pre-election opinion surveys had placed Milei slightly ahead of Massa, the provisional results show that he won by a margin of more than 11%, which has shocked many.
The departing left-wing government’s minister of economy, Massa, promptly announced his defeat, stating that “obviously the results are not what we had hoped for”.
According to analysts, voters who were tired of Argentina’s established parties were drawn to Milei’s combative attitude and his pledge to “do away with the political caste,” which he holds responsible for the nation’s problems.
“This model of decadence has come to an end. There is no turning back,” he told his supporters in his victory speech, promising a new era for Argentina.
“From being the richest country in the world, today we are (ranked) 130. Half of Argentines are poor and the other 10% are destitute. Stop this impoverishing model of the caste. Today we embrace the Libertarian model so as to return to being a global power,” he said.
Additionally, he declared that the changes he would implement would be swift and severe.
The former economist and commentator raised a chainsaw in the air during a campaign rally to represent efforts to reduce spending.
After winning the first round, he ceased criticising conservative Patricia Bullrich, who finished third and supported Milei in the subsequent round.
He expressed his gratitude to Bullrich and the conservative former president Mauricio Macri, who had also supported him, in his victory address.
However, while his followers chanted “change!” on the streets of Buenos Aires, some are concerned about the potential ramifications of Milei’s win for Argentine society.
His selection of Victoria Villarruel as his running mate for vice president startled human rights activists in the nation, where 30,000 people were slain or kidnapped by the military between 1976 and 1983.
Villarruel, whose family is in the military, has supported officers found guilty of crimes against humanity and suggested tearing down a museum honouring those who perished under the military dictatorship in Argentina.
On December 10, Milei and Villarruel will take an oath of office for a duration of four years.