a surreal duel for the second round

In Argentina, two men qualified on Sunday October 22 after the first round of the presidential election. The second round, which will take place on November 19, will pit the Minister of the Economy, Sergio Massa, against Javier Milei, the anti-system candidate.

After the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, October 22, the improbable duel that is looming, between an outgoing minister with an impossible record and an anti-system polemicist, a former rock singer, can only be understood in the light of despair. deep of the Argentines.

In the background of the presidential elections, there is the despair and anger of an entire country, whose economy is often compared to “a patient in intensive care”. Inflation there is one of the highest in the world. Over one year, it flirts with 140%. To get by, residents are increasing their credits, over-indebtedness is exploding, now 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. The country, which is struggling to repay a colossal debt of 45 billion dollars to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is on the verge of a social explosion.

Sergio Massa the centrist

However, it is the Minister of the Economy, Sergio Massa, who comes out on top with more than 36% of the votes. Ihe was astonishingly successful in persuading the Argentines that he was not responsible for anything. The trained lawyer has become a full-time politician for 25 years. “Sergio Massa the centrist” often moved from one party to another and, during the campaign, from the height of his relaxed elegance, he took great care to distance himself from the unpopular President Alberto Fernandez.

He highlighted the state’s public spending on social security and, a few months before the election, he began to propose VAT exemptions and subsidies of all kinds. His feat was to make people believe that he had the situation under control, to ensure that the worst was over. Which is far from a certainty.

El loco (the madman)

Facing him, the eccentric populist Javier Milei obtained 30% of the vote. For the favorite, cIt’s much less than he hoped. Despite everything, he makes 30% whereas two years ago, he was a simple polemicist on TV sets. This is already an achievement. Javier Milei, with his favorites and his slightly vintage rocker tunes, calls himself an anarcho-capitalist. He is unpredictable, radical and provocative. In his meetings, he often brandishes a chainsaw while shouting in a hoarse voice “Long live freedom, damn it!” because iHe wants to cut the State into pieces, reduce public spending.

It is part of the global trend of a populist right, ultra-liberal on the economic level, ultra-conservative on social issues. Ihe denounces the “parasitic caste” who has been sharing power for 20 years and wants “dollarize” the economy – let the greenback replace the peso. Anti-abortion, pro-gun and climate skeptic, he is a great admirer of Donald Trump. In the name of freedom to dispose of one’s body, he proposed the creation of a large market for the sale of organs. Since he was little, Javier Milei has been called “el loco” (“the crazy one”). Taking this postulate seriously, his opponent Sergio Massa requested a psychiatric evaluation of the candidates before the second round.

There is one month left of the campaign. How will the vote carryovers be distributed for the second round? All scenarios are possible. But whoever wins, this election marks the end of a 20-year political and economic cycle. Both Sergio Massa and Javier Milei want to reduce state spending and it is the population who will pay the costs.

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