Trump Admirer Stuns in Argentina

Far-right populist Javier Milier emerges as surprise frontrunner after primary elections
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 14, 2023 8:17 AM CDT
Trump Admirer Stuns in Argentina
Javier Milei, presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition, embraces his sister Karina at his campaign headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Far-right populist Javier Milei rocked Argentina's political establishment Sunday by emerging as the biggest vote-getter in primary elections to choose presidential candidates for the October general election in a nation battered by economic woes. Milei, an admirer of former President Trump who loves being compared to him, says Argentina's Central Bank should be abolished, thinks climate change is a lie, characterizes sex education as a ploy to destroy the family, believes the sale of human organs should be legal, and wants to make it easier to own handguns, per the AP.

Votes were still being counted late Sunday, but analysts agreed that the upstart candidate who gained notoriety—and a rockstar-like following—by angrily ranting against the "political caste" did much better than expected and is a real contender for the presidency in this South American country. The New York Times considers him the new frontrunner. With around 92% of polling locations reporting, Milei had around 30% of the total vote, according to official results. "I think these results are surprising even to him," Pablo Touzon, an Argentine political consultant, tells the Times. "Up until now, he was a protest candidate."

Celebrating in his election headquarters, Milei vowed to bring "an end to the parasitic, corrupt, and useless political caste that exists in this country." Before the election, analysts had warned that a better-than-expected showing for Milei, 52, would likely upset financial markets and lead to a sharp plunge in the value of Argentina's peso amid uncertainty about what economic policies he might implement if he became president. Discontent is widespread in Argentina, which is struggling with annual inflation over 100%, rising poverty, and a rapidly depreciating currency. Milei attracted support by calling for the country to replace the peso with the US dollar. (More Argentina stories.)

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