Argentine libertarian economist Javier Milei formally debuted his political coalition’s campaign platform on Tuesday, a formal requirement for him to run in the October 2023 presidential elections.
Milei’s La Libertad Avanza (“Liberty Advances”) coalition issued its formal request to join the presidential race as the nation’s ruling leftist Frente de Todos (“Front for All”) coalition flounders in disarray, lacking a presidential candidate after incumbent President Alberto Fernández announced in April that he would not run for reelection. The current vice president, far-left former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has also withdrawn her name from the race, again confirming on Tuesday that she would not run.
Argentina is suffering a severe economic crisis, reaching an annual inflation rate of 109 percent in April that prompted the nation’s central bank to hike its base interest rate to 97 percent this week. The South American nation’s currency, the Argentine peso, also continues to lose value on a daily basis.
Liberty Advances will present Milei, a 52-year-old economist who built a right-wing coalition through online lectures and fiery cable news appearances, as its presidential candidate, alongside vice presidential running mate Victoria Villarruel. Both currently serve as federal deputies (lawmakers) in the Argentine Congress.
Their party platform includes 60 bullet-point proposals to change the Argentine government, which has been in leftist hands, with only brief respites of centrist rule, for decades.
Milei has presented himself as a fierce anti-communist, often denouncing the ideology as a “murderous system” that has taken the lives of 150 million human beings and describing its offshoot, socialism, as a “disease of the soul.”
In a 2019 interview that went viral on social media, Milei lashed out against politicians, calling them “parasites” and “sociopaths who wants us to believe that we are mentally disabled, disabled in every way, because we cannot live if it were not for them — in reality, they are the ones who cannot live without us.”
While identifying as a pro-capitalist Latin American libertarian, Milei has condemned “free market” policies that require doing business with communist states. Milei participated in protests outside the Cuban Embassy in Argentina in July 2021 as Cuban citizens fiercely protested against the communist Castro regime in their country. He has also condemned doing business with communist China, stating, “I don’t do business with communists” and insisting on economic ties only with “civilized” partners.
Milei’s platform is also heavily socially conservative, including provisions to protect unborn children and eliminate radical gender ideology in schools. Argentina legalized abortion in 2020, a move Villarruel said should be repealed. Argentina under socialism also forces schools to implement a mandatory Comprehensive Sexual Education Program (ESI) that the Liberty Advances platform would repeal. The candidates have also promised a “decentralization” of the country’s education system to expand school choice via education vouchers.
Milei’s economic proposals begin with a “dollarization” of the nation’s ailing economy, which would see the country discard the crumbling Argentine peso and adopt the U.S. dollar as legal tender to stabilize the economy and reduce inflation.
Presently, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Panama have officially dollarized their economies and utilize the U.S. dollar as their country’s legal tender — in the case of El Salvador, however, U.S. dollar coexists alongside the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as legal tender.
Milei also seeks the elimination of the Argentine Central Bank, an institution that the libertarian economist describes as a “cheating” mechanism and destroyed in piñata form on his birthday in 2018.
The platform also proposes the unification of the country’s convoluted multi-tier exchange rate system, creating a “currency competition that allows citizens to freely choose the monetary system or the dollarization of the economy.” Furthermore, he proposes the elimination of export withholdings and import duties and a “sharp cut in public spending.” Among those cuts are shutting down ten federal government ministries, imposing tariffs on all benefits provided by public hospitals, cutting spending on retirement and pensions, and the privatization of state-owned companies that are currently in debt.
Presently, more than ten candidates have expressed their intention to run in the upcoming October 2023 presidential election. Argentine law states that all prospective candidates must participate in a mandatory nationwide primary process known as PASO (Simultaneous and Mandatory Open Primaries), scheduled to take place on August 13. The PASO primaries will define each coalition’s candidate for the October election.
Polls released in early May showed Milei leading the race with a prospective 39.6 percent vote intention against Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich from the center-right coalition known as Juntos por el Cambio (“Together for Change”), who respectively have 38 and 37.3 percent vote intention. Current Economy Minister Sergio Massa counts with an up to 35.3 percent vote intention.