The far-right libertarian candidate in Argentina’s presidential run-off elections, Javier Milei, has won a large victory, taking over 55% of the national vote and beating the Peronist candidate, Sergio Massa, who won 44% of the vote. Meli, a far right economist and TV star won most provinces with the exceptions of Formosa, Santiago del Estero and the province of Bueno Aires, where the result was a virtual draw. Cities like Cordoba saw the right take over 70% of the vote.
Milei’s victory will open a new chapter in crisis ridden Argentina but will bring no stability and will open a new era of savage attacks on the working class. Milei’s programme including ‘free trade’, dollarisation of the economy, wholesale privatisation of health, education and other key sectors of the economy, labour ‘reform’ and other attacks on workers, and opposition to abortion.
The surge to Milei is a cry of desperation from the masses in Argentina. They have faced a collapse of living standards and accelerating poverty levels. There are signs of social collapse, reflected in the growth of drug cartels and violence. Around 40% officially live in poverty, with inflation rates at 150%. The country has been on the brink of debt default as the crisis intensifies.
Voters vomited out the corrupt pro-capitalist Peronists, along with all the other traditional parties. Under Massa and the Peronists nothing has been resolved in the interests of the working class, as cuts and attacks have rained down on the masses, as demanded by the IMF and other imperialist agencies. The official trade union bureaucracy failed to lead any struggle against the government as it is entwined with the Peronist apparatus.
Milei, however, will not resolve the crisis nor offer any hope to the working class and poor of Argentina. He has no majority in Congress or Senate and threatens to rule by decree and by the calling of plebiscites. The right-wing leader of the Republican Proposal Party, Mauricio Macri, was elected president in 2015, having defeated the Peronists led by Nestor Kirchner. Macris, rapidly confronted strikes and general strikes as he attempted to force through his programme. He was then defeated by the Peronists in 2019. Milei will confront the same revolt, at a certain stage, as the consequences of his reactionary programme become clear.
The crucial task now for workers and revolutionaries in Argentina is to prepare the building of a movement of workers and youth to struggle against the reactionary anti-working class policies that Milei is certain to attempt to implement. Sections of the ruling class may use their position in the Senate and Congress to try and contain some of the most extreme measures being proposed by Milei. However, an era of crisis and political and social upheaval is now certain to unfold.
At the recent Congressional elections, the Trotskyist-dominated front, FIT, increased its representation in Congress to five seats. It now needs to turn to the social and industrial struggles that loom ahead. The convening of a congress of all those involved in struggle – rank and file trade unionists, the unemployed, the youth and others – is urgent to prepare for the future battles and to offer a socialist alternative. For working people and the poor this is the only way out of the dead end that Argentinean capitalism now offers.