51-year-old economist, ultra-liberal and provocative, Javier Milei has established himself as an electoral phenomenon in the city of Buenos Aires where, with his anti-politician speech, he challenges the center-left coalition Frente de Todos in power for the second place. in Sunday’s midterm elections.
“I didn’t come here to lead lambs, I came to wake up lions,” Milei shouts from a stage in a square in the capital, as supporters cheer her enthusiastically.
“Viva la libertad, carajo!He cries again, blaming Argentina’s evils on “the political caste” – he does not distinguish between right and left, government and opposition.
Milei is campaigning, but his election event consists of an economics “class” for an audience that is predominantly young, male, alienated by politics, but flattered by this intellectual format in which books are drawn at the end of the rally. campaign.
“He speaks sincerely, he does not beat around the bush,” explains Daniel Quiroz, an electromechanical student from the poorest south of Buenos Aires who will vote in his first election.
In the square, a line of people lined up to join Avanza Libertad, Milei’s libertarian party, which came third in the PASTO primary elections in September in the capital with 13.6% of the vote.
“Today, in Argentina, there is a fairly broad socialism created by the political caste. We call everything that has been there for a long time and who does not want to leave power the caste”, explains Matías Miró, 40 years old. former libertarian activist.
Milei’s electoral strength is on the rise, according to polls, worrying some within the center-right Juntos coalition, which has governed the capital since 2007.
“The ideas that Milei expresses are the same ones that I have always expressed”, recently declared the former president Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).
With his curious and chaotic hair, which he says is the result of not combing his hair for years, Milei is a controversial figure.
He has published several books and, at the same time, has been accused of plagiarizing entire paragraphs. He had an online radio show, ‘Mitos Demolitionist‘(‘ Demolishing the myths’). Ramiro Marra, his running mate in the lower house of the Chamber of Deputies, is a YouTube star who runs a channel where he teaches how to invest in bitcoin.
“Entering politics does not mean giving up the cultural battle. We will continue to wage the cultural battle, but now also from within,” Milei told AFP in an interview, explaining his decision to join a Congress. which he considers to be riddled. with thieves.
“We will never create new taxes, we will never go against life, we will never go against freedom and we will never go against property. We will promote bills that will remove this oppression of the world. ‘State over the people’, promises this man who likes to quote the glories of the nineteenth century, such as Juan Bautista Alberdi, the inspirer of the Constitution who declared: “Whoever does not believe in freedom as a source of wealth does not deserve to ‘to be free nor to know how to be rich. “
Internationally, he’s not uncomfortable with comparisons to former US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Across social classes
Milei’s supporters are predominantly men, between the ages of 18 and 40, but they come from all walks of life, according to political scientist Diego Reynoso of the University of San Andrés.
“He is clearly positioned on the right, both economically – less State, more market – and on other values, for example his opposition to abortion”, which has been legal in Argentina since 2020, specifies the political scientist.
Milei’s preaching against the “political caste”, which he blames for Argentina’s economic, social and political crisis, places him “outside the political system,” says Reynoso. “It allows him to use a clearly protesting rhetoric and from there he capitalizes a lot.”
The 51-year-old even enjoys support in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of the capital, where his vote share was slightly above average.
“There is an explanation. In these neighborhoods, there are people in formal employment who, despite their best efforts, cannot leave and complain about the discounts they receive. One might think that these sectors would require more tax and fiscal pressure, but this is not the case. the case, ”observes the analyst.
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