Former President Donald Trump seemed thrilled on Sunday when Argentina elected a conservative populist and ousted their far-Left government from power.
Trump shared a message for Argentina’s new President-elect, Javier Milei, on TruthSocial —
Congratulations to Javier Milei on a great race for President of Argentina. The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you. You will turn your Country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!
Milei’s legions of fans call him “the crazy” and “the wig” due to his ferocity and unruly mop of hair, while he refers to himself as “the lion.”
A few years ago, Milei was a television talking head that bookers loved because his screeds against government spending and the ruling political class boosted ratings. At the time, and up until mere months ago, hardly any political expert believed he had a real shot at becoming president of South America’s second-largest economy.
But Milei, a 53-year-old economist, has rocked Argentina’s political establishment and inserted himself into what has long been effectively a two-party system by amassing a groundswell of support with his prescriptions of drastic measures to rein in soaring inflation and by pledging to crusade against the creep of socialism in society.
At the heart of his economic plan for Argentina is a proposal to replace the local currency, the peso, with the U.S. dollar. He has repeatedly said the only way to end the scourge of inflation, which has topped 140%, is to prevent politicians from continuing to print money. As such, he plans to extinguish the Central Bank.
A self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” Milei’s libertarianism was a novelty for Argentina. He has spoken in favor of loosening the country’s labor laws and promoted a vision of starkly smaller government to boost economic growth. That entails eliminating half of the government ministries, including health and education. As a symbol of the deep cuts he champions, he has at times campaigned with a revving chainsaw in hand.
Reducing the state’s size dovetails with his calls for the “political caste” to be purged from Argentina’s government, much as former U.S. President Donald Trump spoke of “draining the swamp” in reference to the entrenched establishment. Milei has often drawn comparisons to Trump, a leader he openly admires.
Before entering the public spotlight, Milei was chief economist at Corporación America, one of Argentina’s largest business conglomerates that, among other things, runs most of the country’s airports. He worked there until 2021, when he won his seat as a lawmaker.
Milei doesn’t just see himself as a right-leaning politician, but also as a culture warrior with the mission of shaking up Argentine society. Some of Milei’s positions appear to echo more conservative Republicans in the U.S. while his fiery, profanity-laden rhetoric has already lifted him to prominence in the global culture war that at times overwhelms political discourse in the U.S., neighboring Brazil, and elsewhere.
Milei opposes feminist policies and abortion, which Argentina legalized in recent years, and has proposed a plebiscite to repeal the law. In a television appearance, he denounced Pope Francis, who is Argentine, as an “imbecile” for defending “woke” policies and called the head of the Roman Catholic Church “the representative of malignance on Earth.”
In the same vein as Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” Milei has said he will return the country to greatness.
“Argentina is going to reclaim the place in the world that it should never have lost,” Milei said at his victory rally Sunday. His followers have embraced the comparison, and often wear hats bearing the words “Make Argentina Great Again.”
Take a look —
Nice hat, Javier Milei pic.twitter.com/58vGwYl7R7
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) November 19, 2023
Despite the “wig” nickname, his hair is real.