On the Ground

The Madman, The Wig and The Lion: Argentina’s new Trump-admiring, far-right president Javier Milei

He’s against gay rights and abortion and once presented himself as an expert in tantric sex – so what does a win for the firebrand libertarian mean for Argentina? Rachael Pells reports on the celebrations and commiserations from Cordoba

Monday 20 November 2023 13:30
<p>Javier Milei and his sister Karina Milei – who he calls the mastermind of his campaign – as results came in</p>

Javier Milei and his sister Karina Milei – who he calls the mastermind of his campaign – as results came in

Cordoba’s Plaza España was a chaotic symphony of car horns and confetti cannons firing out thousands of pieces of face of the incoming president, Javier Milei. By 9pm, thousands had gathered near Plaza Dr Dalmacio Velez Sarsfield armed with flags and air horns, chanting songs about liberty and the convicted vice-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner facing jail.

The far-right libertarian candidate Milei, a 53-year-old chainsaw-wielding economist from the La Libertad Avanza party, had pulled ahead in the third and final round of polling. His legions of fans call him “El Loco” (The Madman) and “The Wig” due to his ferocity and unruly mop of (real) hair, while he refers to himself as “The Lion”. He thinks sex education is a Marxist plot to destroy the family, views his cloned mastiffs as his “children with four paws” and has raised the suggestion that people should be allowed to sell their own vital organs.

As the polls closed on Sunday, Milei had secured 55.69 per cent of the vote; his rival Sergio Massa, the centre-left finance minister, was left with 44.3 per cent. A final count and official announcement is expected to take place by Tuesday. The win was cheered by far-right party leaders in Europe. Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s Vox party said: “Today a path of future and hope opens for Argentines and all of Latin America, which we celebrate in Spain with special joy.” Andre Ventura, the founder of Portugal’s far-right Chega party said: “The fight to defend society is taking place in several territories and in Argentina the first battle has been won!” Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and leader of the hard-right League, also sent his congratulations.

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