By Satyaki Chakraborty
In a big setback to the Left in Latin American region, Far Right outsider Javier Milei defeated the Left coalition’s Peronist economy minister Sergio Massa in a close contest in the Presidential elections held on Sunday November 19.Milei got around 55 per cent of the votes polled as against the Peronist minister and sealed his election as the new President of the second largest country in the Latin American continent.
The victory of the Far Right candidate in the Argentina presidential elections is a reversal of the process of pink tides in the Latin American countries in the presidential elections of the last two years. After the election of the leftwing Morena party candidate Obrador as the President of Mexico in 2018, in most of the presidential elections in the region, the left wing candidates won. These countries so far include Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Columbia .and most importantly Brazil. Only on October 15 this year, the leftwing candidate got defeated in Ecuador in the presidential elections.. After that, the right victory took place in Argentina. The term of the President is for four years.
The victory of the Far Right Milei has both political and economic implications for the immediate future of the economy of the region. Milei, who is called the Donald Trump of Argentina has a completely different political and economic perspective about the future of the Argentine economy and its links with the other countries of the region. He fought on a completely different platform as against the pro public sector programme of the Peronist government.
His campaign promise to dollarize Argentina, if enacted, is expected to thrust the country into a new developmental path. No country of Argentina’s size has previously turned over the reins of its own monetary policy to Washington and the multinational corporations.. With his coming, the collaboration planned between Mexico, Brazil and Argentina-the three largest economies of the continent for having synergy in economic activities, will also get a jolt. Brazil and Mexico are bent on diluting the role of the US companies in the development of their respective economies, but the President elect wants full involvement of the US in the economic rehabilitation of Argentina which is facing an inflation rate of around 140 per cent this year.
Milei, a social conservative with ties to the American right, opposes abortion rights and has called climate change a “lie of socialism.” He has promised to slash government spending by closing Argentina’s ministries of culture, education, and diversity, and by eliminating public subsidies. Milei’s programme of cutting the role of the state in development of Argentina has been welcomed by his mentor Donald Trump. Who tweeted on his platform Truth ‘I am proud of you. Make Argentina great again’
Outside of his controversial plan for dollarization, Milei’s political program includes slashing regulations on gun control and transferring authority over the penitentiary system from civilians to the military; both measures part of a tough-on-crime approach. He proposes using public funds to support families who choose to educate their children privately and even privatizing the health sector, which in Argentina has always been in public hands. This specific plan for dismantling the government subsidized health system was one of the key points in the campaign by the Left candidate Massa. It seems that the economic crisis and unprecedented price rise in the current year had its impact on the common people who believed in the programme of Milei to bring inflation down within a year.
The Left coalition has accepted the verdict gracefully and preparing for the next round of battle. The Peronists and its Left allies have ruled Argentina for many terms and have solid base among the underprivileged. The coalition leaders are waiting for the takeover of the new President and the result of the implementation of his promised programmes. Political analysts are of the view that in a vast country like Argentina it is not possible to give relief to the underprivileged by cutting the role of the state. Already, the country’s population is polarized. . The impact of Milei’s unconventional programmes will decide which way the wind will blow during 2024. The Left in other countries of Latin America are watching with keen interest the coming developments in the crisis ridden economy of Argentina. (IPA Service)