Buenos Aires: Javier Milei, a right-wing populist, is set to assume the presidency of Argentina, having pledged a significant overhaul of the government in the midst of a highly polarized election. This comes against a backdrop of widespread dissatisfaction due to escalating inflation and rising poverty.
Economy Minister Sergio Massa of the Peronist party conceded defeat and congratulated Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist who has drawn frequent comparisons to former US President Donald Trump.
“These were not the results we were hoping for,” Massa said. The economy minister affirmed that Argentina has a democratic system that is “strong, solid, and transparent” and that it will always respect the results of an election.
“The most important thing we can impart to Argentines tonight is the message that coexistence, dialogue, and respect for peace, in the face of so much violence, is the best path that we can take,” he continued.
During his speech, Massa acknowledged that he had called Milei to congratulate him on his victory. He also announced that he would be retiring from politics.
Soon after Massa’s concession speech, the Argentine electoral authority began releasing partial results. With 95% of votes tallied, Milei had 55.8% and Masa 44.2%. If that margin holds, it would be wider than predicted by all polls and the widest since Argentina’s return of democracy in 1983.
According to reports, in the streets of Buenos Aires, drivers honked their horns and many took to the streets to celebrate in several neighborhoods. Outside Milei’s party headquarters, a hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, supporters were euphoric.
With a Milei victory, the country will swing to the right and empower a freshman lawmaker who got his start as a television talking head blasting what he called the political caste.
“This is a triumph that is less due to Milei and his peculiarities and particularities and more to the demand for change,” said Lucas Romero, the head of Synopsis, a local political consulting firm. “What is being expressed at the polls is the weariness, the fatigue, the protest vote of the majority of Argentines.”