A right-wing populist often compared to Donald Trump, Milei is described as more of a rock star than a politician
Libertarian economist Javier Milei has defeated Economy Minister Sergio Massa to become president-elect of Argentina. Milei's economic proposals are radical, but the populist leader's personal life - from his passion for "tantric sex" to his cloned "four-legged children" - has drawn equal controversy.
An outsiderMilei is a newcomer to politics, forming the Liberty Advances coalition in 2021 and winning election to Argentina's Chamber of Deputies that same year. His 2021 campaign offered a preview of what would follow in this year's presidential campaign, with Milei denouncing his leftist rivals as "useless parasites who have never worked," and vowing to "kick these criminals out."
Before entering the political arena, Milei was a prominent economist and author, and a regular guest on television debates. Milei was a combative debater, and often unleashed foul-mouthed tirades against his opponents, infamously referring to Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta as a "disgusting piece of s**t," and the governor of Buenos Aires province as a "diabolical dwarf.
A clear victoryMilei defeated Massa by almost 56% to 44% of the vote in a runoff election on Sunday, despite pre-election opinion polling showing him with a razor-thin lead over the economy minister, and Massa winning 36% of the vote to Milei's 30% in the first round.
Leftists have dominated Argentinian politics for more than half a century, with Peronist candidates - like Massa - winning 10 out of 13 elections they have been allowed to participate in since 1946. Since the end of Argentina's military dictatorship in 1983, Peronists have held power for a total of 28 years.
Over the last decade, inflation has soared to nearly 150%, the number of Argentinians living in poverty has risen to 40%, and the peso has fallen to a record low against the US dollar. With Massa inextricably linked to this decline, analysts have said that many normally left-wing voters sided with Milei, seeing him as a shock therapist capable of revitalizing the flagging economy.
Radical reformsMilei describes himself as an "anarcho-capitalist," championing the free market and viewing government intervention in the economy as encroaching on personal freedom. Throughout his campaign, Milei regularly brandished a chainsaw, a dramatic illustration of his promises to slash social spending, shut down the country's central bank, and reduce the number of government ministries by more than half.
Milei has also vowed to lift capital controls, end government protection of national industries, and eventually abandon the peso in favor of the US dollar.
A wild personalityFamed for his distinctive shaggy mop of gray hair and his tendency to burst into song during political rallies, Milei has been painted in the media as more of a "rock star" than a conventional politician. Milei has done little to dispel this image, boasting of his past as a "tantric sex instructor" and his involvement in several "threesomes" during a talk show appearance in 2020.
Milei has never been married, and lives with five English Mastiffs, which he had cloned from a now-deceased dog named Conan, after Conan the Barbarian. Milei has described the 200-pound dogs as his "four-legged children," and according to his unofficial biographer, Juan Luis Gonzalez, uses a psychic to consult Conan for political advice.
Pressed on this by a reporter, Milei said that "what I do with my spiritual life and in my house is my business. If Conan advises me on politics, it means that he is the best consultant of humanity."
Milei also moonlights as a superhero, appearing at multiple comic con events in Argentina dressed as 'General AnCap', a character of his own creation whose purpose on Earth, according to Milei, is to "kick Keynesians and collectivists in the ass."
Friends and enemiesMilei's outsider status, populist platform, and liberal use of insults have seen him compared to former US President Donald Trump. Like Trump, Milei has reveled in upsetting the powerful, saving his most scornful rhetoric for those he perceives as "communists."
He has referred to Pope Francis on various occasions as a "Jesuit who promotes communism," and a "communist turd," referred to climate change as a "neo-Marxist lie," and threatened to cut off diplomatic relations with "communist" China and Brazil. Milei has also expressed support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, and stated on the campaign trail that he is opposed to Argentina joining the BRICS group.
Furthermore, amid Israel's ongoing invasion of Gaza, Milei told the Times of Israel on Sunday that he has "emphatically expressed" support for the Israeli military, and would move Argentina's embassy in the Jewish state from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In a continent dominated by leftist leaders, Milei's election was met with a mixed response. In a post-election message on social media, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva refused to mention Milei by name, writing that "democracy is the voice of the people and must always be respected." Colombian President Gustavo Petro described Milei's victory as "sad for Latin America."
Trump, on the other hand, declared that he was "very proud" of Milei, and that the president-elect "will truly make Argentina Great Again." In a similar post on social media, Brazil's former right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, declared that "hope is shining again in South America."
X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk also welcomed Milei's victory, declaring on his platform that