Argentina officially elected TV celebrity-turned politician Javier Milei on Sunday, throwing the man who is often dubbed the “Donald Trump” of Argentina into a political battlefield as he attempts to steer South America’s second-largest economy away from total disaster.
The explosive far-right libertarian and climate denier has promised to help Argentina recover from rising inflation–nearing 150%– a looming recession and increasing poverty. Rival centre-left finance minister Sergio Massa of the Peronist party confirmed he had conceded during a press conference Sunday night. According to the Associated Press, citing the Argentine electoral authority, Milei had 55.8% of the vote compared to Massa with 44.2%. At the time, 95% of the votes counted.
“Argentinians have chosen another path,” said Massa. “Obviously the results are not what we expected. I have contacted Javier Milei to congratulate him.”
Milei’s promises are bold for a man who entered politics less than 36 months ago. His economic recovery plan includes shutting the central bank (he once smashed a piñata of the central bank on live TV) and ridding the country of the peso in favor of the U.S. dollar. He made a name for himself while campaigning and wielding a revving chainsaw and has promised to ditch key ministries.
Supporters posted videos of celebrations on the streets of Buenos Aires, with one telling the Guardian, “[I’m] happy, happy, happy. But I don’t think there is another option than trusting him. Now more than ever. The situation is dire.”
Milei’s win drew congratulations from 2024 U.S. presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who said it was “good news” and told the President-elect, “Revive your country. We’re going to see if we can do the same thing here in the United States.”
Right-wing Georgia congrasswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene also posted her congratulations, alongside a video showing Milei ripping key ministries from a whiteboard. “Argentina God bless you,” she wrote.
Brazil’s right-wing former president Jair Bolsonaro also posted to X: “Hope is sparkling in South America once again.”
Milei will take office on 10 December.