by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The result of the second round of Argentina’s elections means that the third (and decisive) round will represent a distinctly binary choice.
The first round of voting (August 13) in the contest for president was, effectively, a three-way split at the top. It was unexpectedly won (with 30.4 percent of the vote) by Javier Milei, a self-styled anarcho-capitalist, who has promised to dollarize the Argentine economy and take a chain saw to Argentine’s bloated state. Second came the conventional center-right candidate Patricia Bullrich who, if we add the tally of an ally, ended up with 28.28 percent, after a campaign in which she unwisely talked more about crime than the country’s economic crisis. The third to make it to the second round was Sergio Massa, the Peronist current minister of the economy, who (with his sidekick) scored 27.27 percent.
Having come from “nowhere,” Milei seemed to have momentum behind him, but the second round this weekend delivered a different message. Massa came out top with 36.69 percent, Milei had slipped back slightly to 29.9 percent, and Bullrich came in third with 23.84 percent (two other cand idates also made it to this round). The runoff (November 19) will thus be between Massa, the latest incarnation of Argentina’s disastrous, yet persistent, Peronist tradition, and Milei, its diametric opposite. …
… Beneath the demagoguery and the cronyism that has long marked Peronism is a policy mix that includes industrial policy, tariffs, a destructive form of nationalism, an unhealthily close relationship with the unions and a form of “social justice” with some connections to Catholic social theory. Any resemblance to some of the ideas being put forward by conservatism’s “new right” in the U.S. are, of course, unfortunate, but there we are.
It is worth adding that the underlying reason for the “fragility” of Argentina’s economy is the failure of the current government, of which Massa is, of course, a prominent member.