The Bipolar Political Arena in Argentine politics since WWII
Since the 1943 Argentine coup d’État, and Perón’s resulting presidential investiture in 1945, Juan Domingo Perón’s legacy has been a grand divide in Argentine politics between believers in his personality cult (Peronists) ⏤followers of his very flexible, somewhat nationalist, policies⏤ and the rest who hate him with a passion, divide and conquer.
Perón, a military general, was also a man of his people but he was never anti-fascist and he tended increasingly that way toward the end of his life. Perón’s own policies, and those of his followers, have fluctuated between socialism and fascism with the deftness of some of his hosts in post-WWII Southern Europe ⏤think Mussolini or Franco⏤ some of whom provided him sanctuary when he fled Argentina after the war. As to the anti-Peronist coalitions ⏤the current flavour being the PRO alliance (called Together for Change, juntos por el Cambio or JxC)⏤ in their myriad forms they do show some similarities. They are more open about preserving the status quo and are rather less of the common man, they also tend to be much more economically liberal. JxC espouses neoclassical economics, the neoliberal economic doctrine favoured in the US and the European Commission, but not the Mises ultra-liberalism of Milei.
Perón may be dead since the 1970’s but don’t mention this to his fan-base because Peronism, like all cults and religions, is about faith and about blind loyalty, and not at all about any policies in particular. Peronism or anti-Peronism has introduced a bipolar, love-me/hate-me dynamic into Argentine politics. Combine this with a football-like political fervour ⏤think Evita Perón’s don’t cry for me Argentina⏤ and you have a fiery cauldron but one that is relatively under control serving, in the main, distinct national interests and their international partners abroad: Cargill and Barrick Gold or Newmont Mining spring to mind.
The problem for both the JxC and UxP alliances and the casta that support both of them is younger Argentinians are not dividing neatly across these lines. They are looking for alternatives because the current bipolarity is not working for most of them, so they have nowhere to go but Milei. If Milei wins it might be that Peron can be given a decent burial and political groupings can split along more rational policy choices in the future (providing some choice on the environment and the economy for these rebellious sectors).
That is a big maybe!
A future Milei win can also mean things could get much worse in Argentina (as some astute backers of Milei are beginning to realise). Milei might hate the State but even apolitical teenagers undrstand that excellent free education and the ability to call an ambulance is useful when one needs them. That said these are in a minority and Milei’s personality (and the ample coverage the media has given him) provides this rebellious group of disenfranchised voters with a third way.
Javier Milei is the new kid on the block.