Staff writers Fernando Miranda and Isabel Cancian examine the effect Milei will have on Argentinian politics.
Argentina’s recent elections have left an indelible mark on the nation’s trajectory after the self-called anarcho-capitalist Javier Milei made his entrance to the Casa Rosada. The leader of “La Libertad Avanza”, after an electoral race filled with surprises, won the presidency with the support of 55.95% of the electorate. With the many challenges that await Argentina, what does Milei propose to put his country back into action?
One of the main selling points of Milei ‘s campaign was the dollarisation of Argentina’s economy. This move would also entail abolishing the Argentinian Peso and eliminating the Central Bank. These measures, intended to stop Argentina’s current 124.4% rate of hyperinflation, have been met with curiosity and scepticism.
The main critiques of the measure call out the differences between Latin American countries and the US, stating that “what might be the right monetary policy for the latter may be the wrong one for the former“. Others note that the country lacks the necessary number of dollars for this work. However, some analysts argue that while the central bank does not have the needed dollars, citizens and companies do.
Chainsaws and Privatisation
“Everything that can be in the hands of the private sector will be in the hands of the private sector.” In the days following the election, he re-stated these ideas, advancing that as soon as he enters the Casa Rosada, he will initiate a wave of privatisations. One of the first companies to undergo the process will be the oil company YPF, followed by the energy company Enarsa, and various public media organisations.
The politician has also put much importance on cutting the size and expenses of the state. In a now-viral video released before the elections, he argued that “the state is the problem […] and the source of Argentinian decadence.” On it, he vowed to reduce the number of ministries from 19 to 8, looking to reduce the state’s presence in every primary sector thoroughly. Following this rationale, the remaining ministries and their expected representatives are as follows:
Chief of Staff: Nicolás Posse
Economy: Luis Caputo
Security: Patricia Bullrich
Justice: Mariano Cúneo Libarona
Defence: Luis Petri
Foreign Affairs: Diana Mondino
Human Capital (Education, Health, Social Development, Work): Sandra Pettovello
Infrastructure (Transport, Energy, Mining, Communications, Public Infrastructure): Guillermo Ferraro
The Ministry of “Human Capital”
Many proposals are worth mentioning regarding the Ministry of Human Capital (the successor of the former ministries of health, education, social development and work). One of the most revolutionary inventions of the elected administration, its main objective is to act as a transitional ministry that will provide the foundations needed for a complete privatisation of the Argentinian economy.
Related to health, a significant change would come from the withdrawal of funding that the state gives to hospitals and other health institutions. Instead, that funding would be redirected to the patients through vouchers. These vouchers would have a predetermined monetary value and could only be used to pay for health services. Once the hospital has provided the service and accepted the voucher, it will send an invoice to the state to receive the corresponding money. The idea behind them is that they will incentivise competitiveness between hospitals, thus pushing them to provide better and more attractive services. However, one of the various points of contention is that providers may not have sufficient incentives to offer services to small or isolated populations due to the lack of possible vouchers in these areas.
The educational system would also see the introduction of similar vouchers, with the final objective of transforming Argentina’s current system into fully privatised education, from primary schools to universities. Similarly, Milei’s future government would also see the closure of Argentina’s central public science-funding agency, the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), which funds 12,000 researchers at 300 institutions; with the objective of, once again, reinforcing privatisation and thus, scientific competitiveness.
Other social and environmental policies
While the new public agenda prioritises economic measures, Milei ‘s government also aims to implement a new range of conservative social policies. During the beginning of his campaign, the now-elected president expressed support for the legalisation of the ‘market’ of firearms. However, he has now stated that it is not part of his public agenda and that other security reforms are being planned with a ‘zero-tolerance approach.’
On this line, a particular point of controversy can be found in the statements made by the elected Vice-President Victoria Villarruel, who promised to increase military spending. The reasons behind the controversy come after Villarruel’s ‘denialist’ stance regarding the country’s last military dictatorship (1976-1983). It is estimated that between 10.000 and 30.000 presumed political opponents went missing during what is known as the ‘Dirty War.’ In this manner, the elected Vice-President has raised concerns for her apologist approach towards the military junta responsible for the ‘disappearance’ of civilians.
Coming back to healthcare, Benegas Lynch, a representative in Congress for La Libertad Avanza, has stated that the overturn of the legalisation of abortion would be a “priority” for the elected government. Similarly, Milei seeks to dismantle the Integral Sexual Education (ESI) curriculum for schools, as he considers it a “form of indoctrination.”
Finally, while environmental challenges were a consistent blindspot in most electoral programmes, Milei’s party has stated that: “all these policies blaming humans for climate change are false and only serve to raise funds to finance lazy socialists“. As a result, the Elected Administration will take no measures to tackle the climate crisis. Instead, the elected party pretends to rely on the market to solve this problem: “Why are whales on the brink of extinction while chickens or cows are not? […] When there is an owner, there is economical use, and this protects the fauna”.
In the end, it is difficult to tell the effect Milei’s policies will have. If he manages to implement them at all. While they have been met with scepticism by some, they have also gained substantial popularity amongst Argentinians, who are in dire need of change. Whether the economic and social changes he proposes will prove to be the necessary steps to solve Argentina’s current situation or just a torrent of populist statements, can only be determined with time. One thing is evident, the new government’s agenda represents a major shift in the country’s public policy. All we can do now is wait and see.