Javier Milei is the leading candidate in the upcoming elections in Argentina. Milei is a polarizing far-right candidate who rails against the political establishment and promises to boost the economy. Milei has drawn comparisons to former US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.

Milei is a self-described “anarcho-capitalist” and libertarian economist who has vowed to adopt the dollar as Argentina’s currency, brought a chainsaw to rallies to show he is serious about cutting government spending and is opposed to abortion.

Milei shocked pundits when he won a primary in August, putting him at the top of the race. He appeals to the public, especially young people, amid discontent over the poor economic situation, in which inflation has shot up to over 100%.

Milei, from the La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances) party, will face center-right candidate Patricia Bullrich and Economy Minister Sergio Massa, the ruling coalition’s candidate, on Sunday. A November runoff appears likely, with Milei likely to advance, predicts Christopher Sabatini, senior research fellow for Latin America at the Chatham House think tank.

Before the vote, here’s what you need to know about Milei and what his potential election could mean.

What is Javier Milei’s background and political history?

Milei, 52, is a trained economist, professor and author, according to the World Economic Forum. He is an outspoken anti-socialist in a country built on a generous welfare system but struggling economically to stay afloat and owing billions of dollars to the International Monetary Fund.

Milei is a former television talkhead with a distinctive look that his hairdresser reportedly compared to Wolverine. Milei entered politics in 2021 after winning election as a deputy in the lower house of the Argentine Congress.

Local news outlets Buenos Aires Times and iprofesional reported that his track record as a lawmaker was poor. In April, he had only been present for half of the votes since taking office, another politician claimed on X.

According to iprofesional, as of August he had not initiated any legislative initiative and had not joined any committee. He had signed 13 draft resolutions, nine draft laws and six draft declarations. Most were related to tax repeal, with one opposing the country’s move in 2020 to legalize abortion and another expressing concern about the war between Russia and Ukraine.

If he is elected, What policies does Javier Milei plan to introduce?

Milei has promised to overhaul Argentina’s financial and government structure to boost its economy. His most controversial proposal was to replace Argentina’s currency, the peso, with the US dollar.

Economists have debated whether this proposal is possible, with some saying the country does not have enough liquid assets to make the transition. Others are divided on whether it would help the economy.

Milei also reportedly wants to cut funding for science. In an interview in 2021, he was quoted as a climate change denier, saying, “Global warming is another lie of socialism.”

Milei may well reverse the legalization of abortion, as local media reported that he said two years ago: “The only way to support the right to abortion is to endanger the life of the mother because there is a conflict of ownership. “

Milei also questioned the estimated number of victims under Argentina’s former dictatorship, claiming the widely accepted figure of 30,000 was less than 9,000, sparking outrage from victims’ families.

Who is Javier Milei’s vice president?

Milei’s vice president, Victoria Villarruel, is another Freedom Advances member who entered the Argentine Congress around the same time.

She comes from a military family, El Pais reported. A lawyer who defended military officers accused of crimes against humanity, she founded the Center for Legal Studies on Terrorism and its Victims (CELTYV) in 2006 and sparked controversy with her comments on “victims of terrorism.”

She opposes gay marriage and the legalization of abortion in the country, telling El Pais: “I defend the right to life because life begins at conception.”

What would the election of Javier Milei mean for Argentina and foreign relations?

Pablo Touzon, co-director of Buenos Aires political consultancy Escenarios, wrote for The World Today that outside candidate Milei faces an uphill battle to change the status quo at home. “He would have a minority in Congress, almost no political appeal among governors in Argentina’s federal system and no support in the judiciary or media,” he said.

Milei has also announced that he will move Argentina’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, following Trump’s lead – a controversial decision that would likely be even more polarizing now given the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Source : time.com

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