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The international insertion of Milei’s Argentina: What will it be like?

After the inauguration of the president on December 10, the new Argentine government, supported by an important political capital, will have to face extremely complex challenges. Beyond the support of his party Liberty Advances, the President’s administration will be backed by other center-right organizations, mainly those identified with the coalition Together for Change, headed by former President Mauricio Macri and former candidate Patricia Bullrich.

Within this framework, Javier Milei and his government will have about five or six months to push forward the — radical  — reforms proposed in their program. There are some doubts about whether, once occupying the Rivadavia presidential chair, the new president will opt for polarization and the imposition of shock therapy in the economic and social fields, which could lead to an eventual worsening of the conflict, or whether he will adopt a more moderate and pragmatic style. In both cases, presidential dignity and leadership capacity will be put to the test. All this will have important repercussions both inside and outside the country.

Regarding international insertion, it is foreseeable that the economic agenda of the new government in Buenos Aires will assume a priority position, especially in the context of the notorious macroeconomic imbalances affecting the country. Consequently, there will likely be a sensitive approach to financial organizations, including the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank or private banks.

Despite campaign speeches, it is not expected that the government will further deteriorate its bilateral and multilateral relations, both with economic powers such as China or Brazil, as well as with integration processes, forums, and groupings — this includes, among others, the country’s eventual accession to the BRICS+. From any perspective, the costs of breaking with such economic-trade partners would be counterproductive, spurious, and irresponsible, especially at a time of urgent need for foreign currency, exports, and access to technologies.

Likewise, it is not credible that the new government would decide to discontinue its participation in MERCOSUR since its economic-commercial and political-diplomatic implications would be extremely high. Meanwhile, it seems unobjectionable to warn that dialogue, concertation, and cooperation within this integration process will become increasingly complex. Note that three of the Mercosur member countries will be governed by center-right leaders, leaving Brazil somewhat isolated. Moreover, in the absence of a clear Brazilian-Argentine leadership, MERCOSUR will most likely continue to suffer from paralysis, stagnation, inertia, and contradictions.

Similar political-ideological arguments suggest that a much less proactive and collaborative positioning of Milei’s Argentina in high-level regional forums, such as CELAC, UNASUR or the Ibero-American Community of Nations, is foreseeable. All this without ignoring that the strident, eccentric, populist, and irreverent style of the referred anarcho-capitalist politician may generate more or less intense contradictions with the moderation, presidential dignity, and pragmatism shown by other rulers of the region, especially leaders such as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Gabriel Boric or Gustavo Petro.

In other words, the guidelines of dialogue, consultation, and political-diplomatic agreement will likely be explicitly altered. It should be considered that the new holder of the Rivadavia presidential chair and the authorities of the San Martín Palace — headquarters of the Argentine Foreign Ministry to be headed by Dr. Diana Elena Mondino  — propose a sensitive geopolitical approach to the Western powers, including the United States, Israel and possibly the European Union.

In parallel, it is feasible that Milei will become one of the main exponents of the Latin American radical right. In this context, it is foreseeable that a “Milei effect” could be replicated in the upcoming elections in countries such as Chile, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, and even Venezuela. The impulse to the political right generated by the victory of the Argentine libertarian candidate will also be felt in social movements of the same nature present in many countries of the region — especially within business, religious, media, or populist “iron fist” associations and collectives — since many of them claim to be engaged and fighting the same cultural war against multiculturalism, socialism, and hemispheric and global progressivism.    

In short, after having tried many other more well-known and traditional political, economic, and social alternatives, together with a high and growing sense of frustration, exhaustion, and skepticism regarding the performance of the political elite and the persistent macroeconomic imbalances, the Argentine electorate voted overwhelmingly for an ultra-liberal, anti-system, and nationalist right-wing program.

Javier Milei assumes the Rivadavia presidential chair amid a serious crisis. The country’s population is waiting to see what the new president can accomplish in a relatively short period. Depending on his results in public management, Milei may be confirmed as the main referent of the local right wing, as a puppet of Macri, or as a new Fujimori. In all these prospective scenarios, its implications and unfolding will be extremely transcendental, mainly in the Latin American, hemispheric, and even global context.

*Translated by Janaína Ruviaro da Silva from the original in Spanish


Investigador-colaborador del Centro de Estudios Multidisciplinarios de la Universidad de Brasilia (UnB). Doctor en Historia. Especializado en temas sobre calidad de la democracia, política internacional, derechos humanos, ciudadanía y violencia.


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