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Argentina elects far-right, chainsaw-wielding Javier Milei as president

Argentina elects far-right, chainsaw-wielding Javier Milei as president

by host

Argentinians elected Javier Milei, a rightwing libertarian former TV pundit who has vowed to radically reform the country, as their new president Sunday.

Milei secured around 56 percent of the vote in the runoff election, with more than 99 percent of ballots counted. His rival, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, conceded the election late Sunday, saying: “Obviously the results are not what we expected. I have contacted Javier Milei to congratulate him.”

Argentina’s sharp swing to the right comes amid an economic crisis, with inflation soaring past 140 percent in October and two-fifths of the country living in poverty.

A self-described anarcho-capitalist, Milei — who has never held public office before — campaigned on making radical changes to the country’s economy and government, including ditching the Argentine peso in favor of the U.S. dollar, getting rid of the central bank, shuttering government ministries and gutting public spending.

Milei waved a chainsaw above his head at political rallies, as a symbol of his promise to slash the size of the state. A social conservative, he opposes abortion and euthanasia and supports fewer restrictions on gun ownership.

Milei’s brash style has seen him likened to former U.S. President Donald Trump and ex-Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro — comparisons he has welcomed.

Trump congratulated Milei late Sunday, saying: “You will turn your country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!”

Bolsonaro said of Milei’s victory: “Hope will shine again in South America.”

Prior to entering politics in 2020, Milei was an economist and TV panelist, and spoke of his past profession as a tantric sex coach.

He made a series of bizarre remarks throughout his campaign, including that he communicates with his dead dog through a spiritual medium, and that his deceased pet told him to run for president.

He also said he supports legalizing the human organ trade, calling it “just another market,” and said “it depends” when asked whether he supports the sale of children.

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