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15 June, 2024
 
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Argentina elects maverick economist Javier Milei as president

From chainsaws to economic overhauls, the unconventional journey of the 'madman' shaking up Argentine politics

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Argentina has chosen controversial libertarian Javier Milei as its president for the next four years. Milei, known for his performative approach to addressing the nation’s economic challenges, gained public attention with promises to tackle soaring inflation, poverty, and unemployment. His campaign style, often characterized as abrasive, draws comparisons to former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and ex-U.S. President Donald Trump.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1970, Milei grew up during Argentina's Dirty War, a military dictatorship's campaign against left-wing political opponents, resulting in an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 casualties from 1976 to 1983. Amid Argentina’s severe economic crisis in 1989, Milei studied economics while also pursuing a parallel career as the lead singer of a Rolling Stones cover band called “Everest.” Over the last two decades, he has lectured at various universities on economics and hosted a radio show. His notoriety increased during his time as a television commentator, marked by over-the-top antics, including claiming his deceased dog urged him to run for president.

Joining the right-wing political party La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Forward) in 2020, Milei became a public favorite as inflation surged to 100%. During his campaign, he employed attention-grabbing tactics, such as wielding a chainsaw to symbolize cutting corruption from the political system and smashing a piñata representing the Central Bank on television.

As President-Elect, Milei aims to address economic issues by pledging to abolish Argentina’s Central Bank and replace the peso with the U.S. dollar to combat hyperinflation. Dr. Christopher Wylde, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at St Mary's University in England, predicts swift privatization of the state oil company, radio, and TV, cautioning potential repercussions similar to the '90s, where solving inflation led to new challenges.

Milei's controversial ideas include cutting social spending, severing ties with communist countries (including China), and advocating for the legalization of the sale of human organs. Nicknamed “El Loco” or “Madman” by supporters, he is anti-abortion, calls for removing sex education from schools, and has criticized Pope Francis, referring to him as a “disgusting leftist” promoting communism. Milei has praised former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, despite her unpopularity in Argentina due to the Falklands War, and criticized iconic footballer Diego Maradona.

With Milei's political party controlling only 14% of parliament, the president-elect may need to moderate his plans to gain support from other political parties. The success of his ambitious economic agenda remains uncertain, with potential challenges reminiscent of past attempts to address Argentina's economic woes.

[Information sourced from Yahoo News]

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