HASith the large victory of Javier Milei in the second round of the presidential election on November 19, Argentina entered a phase of uncertainty unprecedented since the return to democracy in 1983. Often presented as a variation of Donald Trump or of Jair Bolsonaro in the Rio de la Plata region, the libertarian candidate, who beat the Peronist Sergio Massa by almost twelve points, undoubtedly benefited from the precedents established by these two figures. In less than a decade, the former tenant of the White House and the former Brazilian president have broken down a series of democratic dikes on the American continent and made credible political whims that seemed to have no future.
Once we become accustomed to the spectacle of crowds ransacking the Capitol in Washington, as happened on January 6, 2021, or the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on January 8, 2023, we are less offended than a newcomer, a stranger to the political scene three years ago, is campaigning, chainsaw in hand and insults on his lips, promising to liberalize the carrying of weapons and the trade in organs.
Milei’s victory is therefore part of a regional – but also global – context of consolidation of radical rights which no longer seek to hide the most extreme aspects of their program, but showcase them to make them attractive products. . And it doesn’t matter that Milei is content with stammering when his opponent, Sergio Massa, questions him, during the debate between the two rounds, on the concrete conditions for the abolition of the central bank and the dollarization of the promised economy: the essential now lies in hubris, excess, provocation, even buffoonery.
These rights have common phobias, from the north to the south of America and on both sides of the Atlantic – abortion, “gender theory” (term used to mark a rejection of gender studies)LGBTQIA+ communities, “cultural Marxism” (a conspiracy theory involving intellectual elites), migrants, etc. They point to popular vindictiveness as their new internal enemies, who have replaced the communists since the end of the Cold War. Presenting themselves in the trappings of novelty, their discourse of rejection of the political “caste” nevertheless accommodates the recycling of barons of local politics, changing partisan labels according to the occasions, or old glories of years past.
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