What just happened and what happens next?
A sideburn-strapping 52 year old angry little man has won an pre-election in Argentina and the shock waves from this result are causing fissures in the Argentine political theatre of the absurd. Javier Milei is now officially the presidential candidate who received the most votes for himself and for his own political alliance which he helped found in 2021: La Libertad Avanza (LLA).
What did Milei win?
First it’s useful to clarify what exactly Milei has won, which is precisely nothing, or rather to be exact: nothing yet! On August, 13th. 2023, Milei received the highest number of votes in a Presidential pre-election locally referred to as the PASO. PASO was introduced in 2009 as a preliminary election designed to thin out and filter a manageable list of candidates for the actual election in October. With the results published now Argentina has a short list of candidates who get to present themselves as the presidential candidates in round two in October 2023, when. Should any candidate get more than 40% of the national vote while sufficiently ahead of their competition, they will win the presidency outright. Milei is currently the most likely to pull this off but lots can happen before October. Much more likely is that the candidates split the vote in the October round and the top two candidates proceed to a final run-off election in round three. Yes, Argentina can have three elections for the presidency, this makes for great theatre! If we have a run-off and if the PASO results are indicative of a real intention to vote, and if (I know this is a lot of speculation) there is no political horse-trading in the meantime, then two of the three candidates : Javier Milei, Patricia Bullrich and Sergio Massa will face off. As Bullrich and Milei are both on the right wing they will compete for the same voting base, with the protest vote going to Milei, hence they run the risk of eliminating each other, which right now looks like a Massa Milei final in round three but who knows. For now all of this is future speculation but the race is on and there are three horses:
- Javier ⏤destroy the state and genuflect before the gods of the Market⏤Milei
- Patricia ⏤get these damn picketers and poor people off the streets, I’m for “Mano Duro” and giving the police and the military a free hand⏤ Bullrich, and
- Sergio ⏤Please vote for me, I know I’m not that exciting, I’m not offering anything new, but I’m all you’ve got and I’m acceptable to the elite who love my subsidies, eh… sorry, your taxes⏤ Massa
This series of articles attempts to dig a little deeper into the Argentine Milei phenomenon in an historical and international context. The author pretends to explore what might come next for Argentina both during and after the 2023 elections but in the end history will tell.