Image Courtesy of CNBC
By John Maggio
Tens of millions of Argentines will head to the polls to elect their country’s legislature and president this Sunday.
What makes this election unique is the rise of far-right presidential candidate Javier Milei, described by the BBC as a “political earthquake” to the Argentine political system. Being an admirer of former US President Donald Trump, he rose to the polls as a conservative anti-establishment outsider, similar to Pres. Trump.
Argentine politics are run differently than in the US. Argentina has political coalitions that have multiple parties within it that are politically aligned. The Chamber of Deputies is made up of 257 National Deputies from the 23 provinces in multi-member constituencies and seats are awarded to parties by part list proportional representation. If multiple parties belonging to the same coalition have seats in the chamber, then their combined total of seats form the inter-bolc governing coalition.
Presidential elections are held in two rounds. If no candidate wins a majority of the popular vote, then a second round is held with just the two top candidates from the first round.
Milei is an economist and member of the Argentine legislature. He is a member of Partido Libertario (Spanish for “Libertarian Party”) or PL, which is part of the coalition La Libertad Avanza (Spanish for “Liberty Advances”) or LLA. Milei, a self-described “anarcho capitalist”, promotes an absolute system of free market and deregulation, with the notable case in which he called the sale of human organs as “just another market.”
Milei looks to end “the parasitic, corrupt and useless political caste” of Argentina. Milei also wishes to decrease the size of the government, which he sees as being run by “cultural Marxist,” due to government agencies such as the Ministry of Women, which he will seek to close if he wins the presidency. He also thinks that climate change is a “socialist lie,” the Central Bank should be abolished, and abortion should be illegalized.
The other two main Presidential candidates are Sergio Massa and Patricia Bullrich.
Massa founded the Frente Renovador (Spanish for “Renewal Front”) party or FR in 2013. FR is part of the Unión por la Patria (Spanish for “Union for the Homeland”) coalition or UP. He is currently the country’s Minister of Economy and was formally the President of the Chamber of Deputies. The center-left candidate ran for president in 2015, coming in third place in the first round of the election.
Bullrich is the center-right candidate, who is a professor and is formally Argentine’s Minister of Security. Her party is the Propuesta Republicana (Spanish for “Republican Proposal”) or PRO. The PRO is part of the Juntos por el Cambio (Spanish for “Together for Change”) or JxC. The Human Rights Watch reported that Bullrich was a part of an extortion scandal in which someone used hidden cameras to force those recorded “to confess to crimes or implicate others.”
The current President of Argentina Alberto Fernánedz announced in April that he will not be seeking a second term in October. This is largely due to his handling of the economy, with annual inflation over 100% leading to the rapid devaluing of the peso. He is a member of the Partido Justicialista (Spanish for “Justicialist Party”) or PJ. The PJ was the leading party in the Frente de Todos (Spanish for “Everyone’s Front”) coalition or the Fdt. The Fdt was succeeded by the UP earlier this year to better align with the views of the coalition under their new leader, Sergio Massa.
The people of Argentina will also be voting for their legislature. Argentina has a bicameral legislature, with the Chamber of Deputies being the lower chamber and the Senate being the upper chamber. Of the 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, 130 are up for election on Sunday. The UP currently has a majority with 118 seats. The opposition has 124 Deputies, with 116 of them being in the JxC. If the LLA, which currently holds 3 seats in the lower house, can win enough seats, they could possibly form a coalition government with the JxC.
The latest polling shows it being a tight race, with Milei leading in all major polls. Minister Massa is in second place with Bullrich being a close third. With none of the candidates projected to win an outright majority, Milei will more than likely be one of the two entering the second round, leaving Massa and Bullrich to fight for the last spot. This leaves the second round as likely being a battle between the far-right and the center-left or the far-right and the center-right, possibly alienating a large portion of the population. This polling also shows that no party is projected to win an outright majority in both chambers.