Argentina: Massa beats right-wing populist Milei

Sergio Massa, Argentina’s Peronist Minister of Economy, has unexpectedly won the first round of the country’s presidential elections. There was a wave of concern across the world when right-wing populist Javier Milei, who wants to disband the central bank and denies climate change, took the lead in open primaries in August. But commentators see little cause for relief ahead of the run-off between the two candidates.

El País (ES) /

Messianism stopped for now

El País hopes for the democratic forces:

“Milei’s voters are predominantly male and very young. His inflammatory discourse seduced those who want to blow up the system’s structures. ... However, the election results showed that the use of a chainsaw has limited appeal in Argentine society. ... Massa carries major ballast. ... As Minister of Economic Affairs he has found no solutions to the inflation, growing poverty, the decline in GDP. But an economic crisis cannot serve as an excuse for radical solutions that endanger the basic consensus. ... Argentina has set a limit on messianism, at least for the time being. It is important that this limit is consolidated in the second round.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Second round without the voice of reason

El Mundo thinks little of either of the remaining candidates:

“Argentina has been stuck between two populisms since Sunday: ... Corrupt Peronism, which has been failing economically and socially for 16 years, and an ultra-liberal anti-system experiment that promises to drive out the political ‘caste’ once and for all. ... The key to Sergio Massa’s electoral success was an effective campaign in which he mobilised the vote against Milei by falsely presenting himself as the candidate of moderation. ... In the second round, voters will have to choose between protest and fear at a time when the voice of reason which could get the country out of the hole into which Peronism has dug it is sadly lacking”