Argentina elects far-right populist Javier Milei 'the madman' as new president

Right-wing populist Javier Milei set to take Argentina down uncharted path as he says there is 'no room for lukewarm measures'

Argentina has elected right-wing populist Javier Milei, also known as "el Loco" (the madman), as its new president.

The self-described anarchist will now thrust the country into the unknown regarding just how extreme his policies will be, following a campaign that saw him revving a chainsaw to symbolically cut the state down to size.

Milei won all but three of the nation’s 24 provinces and political rival Economy Minister Sergio Massa had conceded even before the electoral authority began announcing preliminary results.

The 53-year-old has pledged for an abrupt, severe change to Argentina's annual inflation rate which is soaring above 140% and a poverty rate that reached 40%.

He has promised to slash government spending, adopt the US dollar as currency and eliminate the Central Bank, as well as some key ministries such as health and education.

Argentina has elected far-right populist Javier Milei as its new president. Credit: AP

Although he has rowed back on several of his more unpopular proposals, the newly elected president remains staunchly anti-abortion, opposes sex education in schools and favours looser gun control laws.

An admirer of former US President Donald Trump, he has likewise presented himself as a force against the global socialism with plans to purge the government of corrupt establishment politicians.

Supporters celebrated on Sunday night outside Milei’s headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires, drinking beer and chanting as fireworks went off overhead.

His fiery, profanity-laden rhetoric has already inserted the country into the global culture war that has overwhelmed political discourse in the US and Brazil.

Like Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, the former presidents of those nations, Milei had made unfounded claims of election fraud before Sunday’s runoff that many analysts said raised concern about him eroding democratic norms.

Trump congratulated him on Truth Social, writing: "The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you. You will turn your Country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!"

Bolsonaro, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, said: "Hope is sparkling in South America once again" as he celebrated what he called a victory for "honesty, progress and freedom".

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