The victory of Javier Milei in Argentina’s presidential election this week shows that the era of far right figures posing as anti‑establishment saviours is far from over. Milei took 56 percent of the vote against 44 percent for the present finance minister, Sergio Massa.
His campaign centred on a pledge to take a “chainsaw” to the state—slashing spending by up to 15 percent of gross domestic product. That means abolishing most of the health and anti-poverty programmes that millions depend on.
Milei also wants to “dollarise” the economy as a way of dealing with soaring inflation. Annual price rises hit 143 percent in October. If that’s carried through, the country would give up the Argentine peso and use the US dollar as its currency. It would mean Washington would effectively run the economy.
During the election campaign, Milei backed moves to outlaw abortion and called for legalising the sale of human organs. At one point he said Argentina’s problems can be traced back to 1916 when all men won the vote. He defends the military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, which killed or “disappeared” up to 30,000 people.
On his first day as president-elect, he pledged to privatise the national oil company YPF as well as state television and radio. “Everything which can be in private sector hands, will be in private sector hands,” he vowed.
This foul figure won only because his opponent had betrayed promises to stand with workers and the poor. Massa comes from the Peronist party—based on the populism of Juan Peron who was president from 1946 to 1955.
Peronism says it wants to abolish class differences and uses the camouflage of “national interest”. But class interests can’t be suppressed, and Massa made the poor pay while serving the rich. Bankers and US imperialism backed him, but many ordinary people saw him as a representative of a state that was their enemy.
Since 2018, poverty has soared from 27 percent to 40 percent of the population. Workers’ wages have collapsed. Those without permanent employment contracts saw the value of their pay fall almost half since 2016.
The real battles will now take place in the streets and the workplaces. Inflation is forecast to reach 210 percent by the end of this year. It’s possible the country could spiral into what Argentines call “el hiper”—hyperinflation, which swept the country in the late 1980s.
The struggles of workers and the poor will be crucial, and Milei may not find he is as strong as he pretends now.Original post