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The extreme right breaks into the Argentine Congress: who are the ‘libertarians’ and how did they grow so fast?

Soon the extreme right will make its debut in the Argentine Congress after having obtained a good result in some jurisdictions of the country during the legislative elections of November 14, winning five benches of the 257 total in the Chamber of Deputies, with more than 98% of the votes counted.

Indeed, the so-called ‘libertarians’ they consolidated as the third most elected political force in the City of Buenos Aires and the province of the same name, ‘the mother of all battles’ for being the most populated jurisdiction in the country. Thus, the party Freedom Advances won 17% of the vote in the capital, garnering two seats, while Advance Freedom it achieved 7.5% in the Buenos Aires territory, adding three places in the enclosure.

Although still they do not have a great presence at the national levelIt begins with something, and its rapid rise is already causing concern among progressive sectors. In fact, it was enough for the extreme right to become strong in key places to reach the Legislative Power. Because of the particularities of the electoral system, it may happen that a party with greater federal weight gets fewer seats in Congress than a party that sits in specific jurisdictions.

The case of the left is illustrative: it is the third national force, with 6% of the votes – almost 1.5 million voters. but it only has four benches, that is, one less than the ‘libertarians’, who are around a million votes.

Who are your references?

The leaders of this new movement are liberal economists that gained popularity after constant appearances in the local media, where they criticized Kirchnerism and Macrism, calling them “political caste.”

The first one is Jose Luis Espert (59), graduated from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) —which is public—, but also with a broad academic career in private education. Detractor of unionism, welfare policies and state controls on the market, he began to make himself known by going as a guest on television programs. Among his best-known positions, his concern about the tax burden on businessmen stood out, the difficulty of hiring and firing staff and public policies for social plans.

He wrote three books: ‘Argentina devoured’, ‘The complicit society’ and ‘No va más’. In June 2019 he launched his own political party, the Despertar Front, and in December of that same year was able to run for president after passing the filter of the primary elections: he obtained 1.47% —almost 400,000 votes— in the final elections, not bad for an ‘outsider’ who had just arrived in politics.

True to his style, liberal economically, conservative socially, in that presidential debate he asked: “Enough of the ‘gigs’ [robo] from the human rights”. His speech pushes the ‘theory of the two demons’, criticizing that only the military are judged for the events that occurred during the dictatorship, and even calling for freedom for those who do not have a firm conviction.

Now, Espert’s party is called Avanza Libertad, and just got over 656,000 votes to represent the Province of Buenos Aires in Congress, leaving behind even the candidate of the left, Nicolás del Caño.

In the Argentine capital, the great revelation was Javier Milei (51), a new ‘politically incorrect’ leader. With a considerable number of academic degrees under private institutions, this economist also became known for his appearances on the small screen. Thus, in recent months he was invited to different programs to comment on current affairs, and his criticisms drew everyone’s attention: in addition to economic considerations, he expressed himself with indignation and fury, shouting and even attacking whoever thought differently. Among his most controversial appearances, he even said that former president Mauricio Macri was a socialist, although now they hold dialogues with each other.

This porteño published eight books, among them the following stand out: ‘Readings on economics in times of Kirchnerism’, ‘The return to the path of Argentine decadence’ and ‘Unmasking the Keynesian lie’. The ‘Milei phenomenon’, as he is nicknamed by the local press, he began to generate supporters in public opinion, beginning to be an icon among young libertarians.

With similar characteristics to Espert’s party – although with some small discrepancies between them that motivated a distancing in 2019 -, in July this year he launched his own political front. Among its bases, it proposes to shrink the State, eliminate the Central Bank, carry out a labor reform by reducing – or removing – compensation and reducing public spending, added to the fact that it denies global warming. At the international level, he shows harmony with the far-right Vox, from Spain, and sympathy for Donald Trump. On her ballot, number two, Victoria Villarruel, heads a group that asks to have “full memory” of what happened in the dictatorship, blaming the guerrilla movements of the time and relativizing state terrorism.

When he inaugurated his party, many wondered if this media analyst could exceed the minimum floor of 1.5% in the primary elections, but he did it more than: he got 13.66%. And not only that, this vertiginous rise rose to 17.03% in just two months, leaving just eight points from Peronism and 30 of the macrismo in the final vote. In other words, the extreme right managed to establish itself with prominence in less than a semester in the City of Buenos Aires, and during the celebrations his reference did not hide his desire to run for President in 2023.

A context prone to disruptive ideas

The constant media exposure of these leaders is not enough to explain the echo they have in a part of society. As has happened throughout history in different parts of the world, crisis scenarios they are ideal for extremist ideas to emerge. And Argentina, which seemed to be exempt from these kinds of movements that are treading strongly in countries of the global North, today is going through a difficult context, with generalized discontent.

According to the latest official data, in the South American country four out of ten people are poor. The high number of poor people is a historical constant, despite the significant economic improvement registered during the mandate of Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) and the first administration of Cristina Fernández (2007-2011). This was followed by a stagnation during the third Kirchner government (2011-2015), a fall and great indebtedness under the administration of Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) and an abrupt worsening of unemployment under the current management of Alberto Fernández, punished by the pandemic and inherited debt.

The health emergency, which tried to be contained by restricting circulation with long quarantine periods, was accompanied by a increased social unrest. In fact, on several occasions there were demonstrations to repudiate the confinement, where there were no shortage of ‘anti-vaccines’ expressions and conspiracy theories. In those protests many flags of the libertarian movement were seen, with the snake and the phrase ‘don’t tread on me’ (don’t step on me), several months before Javier Milei became their leader.

These are the same symbols that were flamed in the Luna Park stadium, where the future deputy celebrated the electoral result, before a public composed, in its great majority, by young people fed up with politics. As a curiosity, on that day a surveillance man threatened to draw his weapon from the stage against someone on the rostrum. The party explained that it was “a militant, who during the campaign assisted in security tasks,” and has already been separated from the team.

At the electoral level, the ‘Milei phenomenon’ also expanded into the poorest areas from the city. In fact, it was there where he obtained the best results, while thousands of citizens in areas such as Villa Soldati, Villa Lugano and Villa Riachuelo do not feel represented by progressivism. Just in case, in August the rightist visited the populous Villa 31 and promised that he would not cut off social plans.

Thus, after the vote, a burlesque message appeared on the La Libertad Avanza networks: “A minute of silence for Kirchnerism.”

Leandro lutzky

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About the author

Donna Miller

Donna is one of the oldest contributors of Gruntstuff and she has a unique perspective with regards to Science which makes her write news from the Science field. She aims to empower the readers with the delivery of apt factual analysis of various news pieces from Science. Donna has 3.5 years of experience in news-based content creation, and she is now an expert at it. She loves journalism, and that is the reason, she moved from a web content writer to a News writer, and she is loving it. She is a fun-loving woman who has very good connections with every team member. She makes the working environment cheerful which improves the team’s work productivity.

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