Reactions have been mixed as the world reacts to the election of libertarian outsider Javier Milei as Argentina’s next president.
Taking a chance on the eccentric economist’s radical reform program after decades of economic stagnation, the Latin American nation handed Milei a landslide victory on Sunday.
His election heralds a dramatic shakeup of the country’s economy and institutions amid public anger over high inflation and record poverty rates under the center-left Peronist coalition.
“I am a man of democracy and I value nothing more than the popular verdict. I trust that tomorrow we can start working with Javier Milei to guarantee an orderly transition,” said the outgoing president, Alberto Fernández.
“I congratulate Javier Milei for bravely representing the will to advance and prosper that lives in the hearts of Argentines. “He knew how to listen to the voices of young people and the fatigue of millions of neglected and impoverished people,” said former president Mauricio Macri.
Reactions from around the world illustrated that many states are nervous about where Milei could lead the Latin American nation.
The voice of the people
Washington’s reaction came through National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who congratulated the president-elect, as well as “the people of Argentina for holding free and fair elections.”
“We look forward to building on our strong bilateral relationship based on our shared commitment to human rights, democratic values and transparency,” he added.
“Democracy is the voice of the people and must always be respected… I wish good luck and success to the new government,” said Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
However, not everyone in the neighborhood was so conciliatory.
“The extreme right has won in Argentina. It is your society’s decision. Sad for Latin America, and we’ll see… The relations between Colombia and Argentina, the links between their communities are maintained in mutual respect. I congratulate Milei,” said the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro.
“As president of Chile, I will work tirelessly to keep our sister nations united and collaborating for the well-being of all,” said Chilean President Gabriel Boric.
“Argentina is a close partner of the European Union. I thank Alberto Fernández for the excellent cooperation over the last few years. I hope to continue this cooperation for the benefit of our people,” wrote the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, in X.
Argentina is a close partner of the European Union. I appreciate @alferdez for the excellent cooperation during the last years.
—Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) November 20, 2023
Russia also reacted cautiously. Milei has previously spoken of reassessing relations with Moscow and supporting Ukraine.
“We hope that progress will continue on the path towards commitment to multipolarity, independent foreign policy and a firm defense of national interests. We are confident that this will be facilitated by Argentina’s accession to the BRICS, which will open new horizons and opportunities for it,” said Russia’s ambassador to Argentina, Dimitry Feokitistov, according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin had taken note of Milei’s statements about Russia but wanted to maintain strong ties with Buenos Aires.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was much more forthcoming.
“Congratulations to Javier Milei for his convincing victory in Argentina’s presidential election,” Zelenskyy wrote in X. “I appreciate his clear stance in support of Ukraine. “I look forward to working together to strengthen our cooperation and restore the international order based on international law.”
congratulations to @JMilei for his convincing victory in the Argentine presidential elections. I appreciate your clear stance in support of Ukraine. I look forward to working together to strengthen our 🇺🇦🇦🇷 cooperation and restore international order based on international law.
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) November 20, 2023
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing looks forward to “continuing our friendship, advancing our respective development and revitalization with win-win cooperation.”
China is a major creditor of Argentina’s struggling economy.
Kristalina Georgieva, director of the International Monetary Fund, with which Buneo Ares has a $44 billion loan program, wrote: “Congratulations to president-elect Javier Milei. “We look forward to working closely with him and his administration in the coming period to develop and implement a robust plan to safeguard macroeconomic stability and strengthen inclusive growth for all Argentines.”
Congratulations to 🇦🇷 President-elect Javier Milei @JMilei. We look forward to working closely with him and his administration in the coming period to develop and implement a robust plan to safeguard macroeconomic stability and strengthen inclusive growth for all Argentines.
– Kristalina Georgieva (@KGeorgieva) November 20, 2023
Former US President Donald Trump, to whom Milei is often compared, also sent congratulations.
“Congratulations to Javier Milei for a great race for president of Argentina. The whole world was watching! I’m very proud of you. You will change your country and truly make Argentina great again!”
The former Argentine president, Jair Bolsanaro, also reacted with joy.
“Congratulations to the Argentine people for the victory of Javier Milei. Hope will shine again in South America. May these good winds reach the United States and Brazil so that honesty, progress and freedom return to all of us,” he said.