Argentina: shift to the right in primaries

Javier Milei, a right-wing populist who wants to abolish the central bank and denies climate change, is the surprise winner of a primary election ahead of the general elections in Argentina. With over 30 percent of the vote, his party took the lead against the centre-right coalition Juntos por el Cambio (28.3 percent with candidate Patricia Bullrich) and the incumbent government alliance Unión por la Patria (27.3 percent with candidate Sergio Massa). Europe’s press eyes the presidential election in October with trepidation.

France Inter (FR) /

Taking advantage of the crisis

Milei is benefiting from Argentina’s instability, observes France Inter:

“Not only has the country been overtaken by its neighbour Chile in terms of per capita GDP, but even Colombia, which started from a much lower position, is starting to catch up with Buenos Aires! Add to that endemic corruption and you get a vengeful populist like Javier Milei topping the polls. ... And all this in a particular political context: the ruling left has pushed through major progressive laws on abortion and same-sex marriage, but it has never really managed to reduce poverty, which still afflicts 40 percent of the population. And generally speaking, such failures or contradictions are paid for very dearly at the ballot box.”

Anthony Bellanger
El Mundo (ES) /

A breeding ground for radicalism in Latin America

El Mundo fears radicalism will spread:

“Armed with an ultra-libertarian discourse in which he promised the ‘burning’ of the central bank, unhindered access to weapons, a ban on abortion, the privatisation of education and health care, the expulsion of politicians ‘with a kick in the butt’ and the legalisation of organ trafficking, Milei capitalised on the outrage of certain citizens — especially the young. ... The example could gain traction in a continent rife with instability and insecurity. ... Ecuador will hold presidential elections on 20 August under a state of emergency after one of the candidates was assassinated. The elections in Guatemala on the same day are also threatened by violence and poverty. A breeding ground on which the most radical options often thrive.”

The Times (GB) /

This didn’t work the last time

Milei’s economic and fiscal plans would do enormous damage to the country, The Times warns:

“Argentina tried ‘dollarisation’ in the 1990s, to gain credibility with international investors. It did not work, and the currency peg had to be abandoned at a huge cost, because Argentina continued to run big budget deficits and maintain rigid labour market restrictions. If an economy cannot rapidly adjust to an external shock, such as a shift in world commodity prices, through its exchange rate then recession and unemployment are inevitable.”