Libertarian Economist Javier Milei Wins Primary Race for Argentina Presidency

On August 13, 2023, Javier Milei, a libertarian economist and firebrand media pundit, won Argentina’s presidential primary election. 

Milei, who is campaigning on a robust free-market platform, picked up 30.1% of the vote on August 13. His performance surpassed pollsters’ expectations of 20%. In picking up these votes, Milei’s Freedom Advances party is now ahead of the center-Right Together for Change party,at 28.3%, and the incumbent populist coalition Union for the Homeland, which picked up 27.2%.

Sergio Massa, the current economic minister, is running for the presidency under the Union for the Homeland banner.

“We will put an end to Kirchnerism and the parasitic, thieving political class that is sinking this country,” Milei declared, making a reference to a leftist populist faction within Union for the Homeland that is largely influenced by former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. 

Milei’s solid performance demonstrated that Argentines are frustrated with the failure of previous governments’ ability to deliver economic stability. In the present, inflation is hovering above 115% and the Argentine peso has lost over half of its value against the dollar over the last 12 months. In a similar vein, nearly 40% of Argentines live in poverty. 

The libertarian presidential candidate is running on a strong free market platform where he wants to abolish the Central Bank of Argentina and allow Argentines to choose whichever currency they desire transacting in. He has been receptive to the idea of dollarizing the Argentine economy.  On top of that, Milei supports privatizing state-owned enterprises in an effort to revitalize Argentina’s otherwise shackled economy. 

Argentina has been one of the bigger economic tragedies of the past century. Once on par with many industrialized economies in North America and Europe, Argentina has experienced decades of economic instability thanks to loose monetary policies and an intrusive state that has hampered the private sector. Milei offers a unique chance for Argentina to return to its once enviable status as Latin America’s most prosperous nation.

Americans should watch Milei’s campaign with great interest. He could perhaps give members of the North American Right a lesson or two on the virtues of Austrian economics.

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