Argentina’s next president is Javier Milei, after the right-wing libertarian economist defeated Peronist Finance Minister Sergio Massa by an 11.4% margin.
Milei received 55.7% of the vote compared to Massa’s 44.3%, with over 99% of results counted as of Monday morning. Null and blank votes (3% of total) were not included in the final tally.
The former television host won 20 of 23 of Argentina’s provinces, in addition to carrying 57% of the vote in the capital district of Buenos Aires. He will assume office on December 10, on the 40th anniversary of the end of Argentina’s military dictatorship.
Milei inherits an economy in crisis, with annual inflation of almost 150% in 2023. Argentina owes over $40 billion to the International Monetary Fund, the highest such figure of any country in the world.
The president-elect has pledged to drastically overhaul Argentina’s federalist system after the Peronist governments of Alberto Fernández, who’s been president since 2010, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the current vice president and president from 2007 to 2015.
In addition to his flagship campaign pledge of replacing Argentina’s peso with the U.S. dollar, Milei has promised to eliminate numerous state agencies and welfare programs.
“Enough of the impoverishing power of the caste,” Milei said in his victory speech on Sunday evening. “Today we once again embrace the model of liberty, to once again become a world power.”
Some analysts disagree on the likely impact of Milei’s presidency, noting the candidate’s lack of public service experience may limit his governing effectiveness. He was first elected to public office in 2021, with a seat in Congress.
“The problems [in Argentina] have become so deep and complex and intertwined that they’re not easily solvable, even if they’re easily identifiable,” Benjamin Gedan, Director of the Argentina Project at the D.C-based Wilson Center, an independent think tank, said Sunday.
Milei may need the support of the center-right if he hopes to govern effectively; he recently secure endorsements of Mauricio Macri, non-Peronist former president from 2015 to 2019, as well as Patricia Bullrich, the center-right coalition’s presidential candidate who placed behind Massa in October’s first round election.
Argentina Under Milei
As president, Milei is widely expected to attempt to drastically reduce Argentina’s trade and diplomatic ties to China, which have grown considerably under recent administrations, both Peronist and opposition.
“We will not make deals with communists,” Milei said in an interview with Bloomberg in August. China was Argentina’s second largest trading partner in 2021, according to the Organization of Economic Complexity, behind Brazil and ahead of the United States.
As Finance Minister, Sergio Massa was noted for his willingness to improve ties with China; he made a high-profile official visit to Beijing in May, and in October secured a currency swap agreement with the Chinese government worth $6.5 billion.
Milei’s victory comes amid a wave of anti-incumbency sentiment throughout Latin America. With the exception of Paraguay’s elections in 2019 and 2023, incumbent parties have lost twenty consecutive presidential elections in Latin America in the past five years, now including Milei’s win in Argentina.