Summary: Argentina’s political establishment reeled and the country’s peso plunged Monday after anti-establishment candidate Javier Milei received the biggest share of primary votes the day before. Comments below from Patrick Duddy, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela who is now a senior adviser for Global Affairs at Duke University, are available for use in your coverage. (Photo by Todo Noticias)
“Right-wing libertarian candidate Javier Melei’s win in Sunday’s general primary voting surprised many. Milei is an outsider with limited experience in government and his anti-establishment profile recalls that of Brazil’s former right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro. He is also reportedly an admirer of former U.S. President Donald Trump,” says Patrick Duddy, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela who is now a senior adviser for Global Affairs at Duke University.
“Milei topped both the former Security Minster for Mauricio Macri, Patricia Bullrich and Peronist moderate Sergio Massa, the minister of the economy for current Peronist President Alberto Fernandez.”
“Milei finished with more than 30% of the vote. Bullrich and her party captured 28.3%. Massa and his supporters garnered 27.2 % of the vote. The vote total for Milei and Bullrich together, at more than 58 %, suggests that the Argentine electorate is turning away from the left-leaning policies of President Fernandez and Vice President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.”
“This is all the more remarkable because even Sergio Massa is essentially a pragmatist of the center-left, rather than a representative of Argentina’s more traditional and ideological left. Argentine voters appear, therefore, to have rejected the traditional political parties and, in particular, their failed policy prescriptions.”
“This is in no small measure a consequence of Argentina’s continuing economic struggles. According to Bloomberg, the country is ‘on the brink of recession for the sixth time in a decade.’ In 2020, they defaulted on the national debt. It was the ninth default in Argentina’s history. In May of this year, inflation was at 114.2%. In June inflation rose to 115.6%. Some analysts see inflation rising to above 130% before the end of the year.”
“Over the last several years other Latin American electorates have also opted for radical departures from traditional political leadership. Bolsonaro is the most notorious example. But in some ways the election of the inexperienced left-leaning President Pedro Castillo — subsequently forced from office and jailed — in Peru and the young, charismatic but equally inexperienced Gabriel Boric in Chile expressed similar frustration with the failure of the traditional political elites to fulfill the expectations their campaigns promised.”
Patrick Duddy, a former ambassador to Venezuela who worked nearly three decades in the Foreign Service, is senior adviser for Global Affairs at Duke University. From 2007 to 2010 he served as the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela for both Presidents Bush and Obama. Duddy also served as deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, as consul general in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and at U.S. embassies in Bolivia, Panama, Paraguay, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Chile.
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