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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 20-11-2023 00:58

Milei has won – what next for Argentina?

The outspoken libertarian is Argentina's next president. An unstable leader taking the reins of an unstable country. How much of his promises will he keep, or want to keep?

A 53-year-old man who believes he can talk to a dead dog through a medium and that the clones he had made of this animal give him advice on politics and economics. Summed up in just a few lines, this seems like a preview of a new science fiction film, the kind that, after seeing it, leaves you with the feeling that the director's imagination has gone a little too wild. But it is far from that. This is Argentina 2023, and that person is none other than the next president of the nation. He is Javier Milei, an unstable leader in whose hands will be the future of 46 million citizens.

The great unknown at the moment, in the minds of everyone in this country, is clear to all: What does Milei plan to do when he reaches the Casa Rosada? How much will he fulfil the promises – many of them delusional – that he has been making for years?

The writer of these lines has been following the libertarian for years. I saw him up close during his time as a media economist, a period in which I interviewed him several times (and was an eyewitness to his famous tantrums) and then, since becoming the genesis of La Libertad Avanza, I has been covering this incipient phenomenon. It was a long piece of work that was published week-by-week in the Noticias newsmagazine, and which was later published in a book by Editorial Planeta, so far the only biography written about the next president.

Having clarified this fact, the answer to the unknowns may seem bittersweet. But it is the reality: nobody knows how the libertarian will govern. No-one knows if he will implement everything he says he wants to do.

And this is not a journalistic device to, as they say in the barrio, tirarla al corner. The fact is that the heart of Milei's phenomenon is precisely that: the unknown. The first layer of the discourse of the typical La Libertad Avanza voter tends to move from "it's time to try something new" to the oft-mentioned "a different Argentina is impossible with the same old people." The fact that there is no previous historical experience to compare it to is exactly what made it so appealing. That virtually no-one – except for a very studious economist – has documented how nations disappeared their national currency and replaced it with the US dollar is used instead, or what it is like not to have a Central Bank (to name but a few of the measures) is precisely the driving force behind his electoral engineering.

That is why the comment is unavoidable: no-one can accurately predict what kind of country is coming with the incoming government. That is a reality, moreover, exacerbated by Milei's own unstable personality, someone who claims to make decisions based on things like the chats he has with his dead dog's clones.

Everything is uncertain, except for one thing: Milei himself. "El Loco," as he was already known in his years at the Cardenal Copello school in Villa Devoto, is indomitable. He has a fury, a messianic faith, in which he believes that the only thing that could stop him is reality itself. 

But, as most of the economist's current advisors (who time and again suggest ideas or strategies that he never listens to) can attest, no-one can convince Milei to do the opposite of what his head dictates. And that brain, a labyrinth in which clones, sorcerers, mediums and God coexist, knows only one way of structuring itself. It is the rigid Austrian School, which dictates that absolutely everything that happens in this world is a good willing to be exchanged (if the price is right). Even an organ. Even a child.

What can we expect from a Milei government? One thing is for sure: the man is going to try to do everything that his theoretical framework, which for him is a way of explaining life and not just economics, suggests. He is going to try to do everything he promised he was going to do. Perhaps later on, the very reality of this unstable country will put the brakes on him, perhaps the Constitution even will, perhaps the social movements or trade unions will.

But nothing can stop "El Loco." God foretold him so. Milei thinks that he had a "mission" and that he was destined to be president in 2023.  The Almighty apparently told him that in 2020, three years ago. No-one will be able to get him off that horse now.

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Juan Luis González

Juan Luis González

Periodista de política.

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