The world is becoming increasingly divided along ideological lines. This partisanship, spurred on by the 2016 election of right-wing populist Donald Trump, has spread through an American-centred media and now threatens republics in which political lines were once drawn upon more nuanced conversations.

International support for Trump and his victory in the 2016 elections legitimised smaller right-wing parties in states like Argentina where moderates have held office for decades. The far left has moved to counter this - and now both extremes - Milei’s Liberty Advances and the Trotskyist Leftist Workers Front - are making significant advances in the recent midterm elections. But who is Javier Milei, and what does Liberty Advances represent?

Javier Milei

Javier Milei is undoubtedly a man of intellectual prowess. He’s no Donald trump. Born to a bus driver, Milei now holds two master’s degrees and has seen success as a radio presenter, economist, and outspoken critic of both the Macri and Fernandez governments. However, despite his claims of being a libertarian (he has 5 large dogs, each named for a famous literary scholar) his social views often trump his own morals standards over personal liberties. He’s a proponent of sexual liberty whilst holding a staunchly anti-abortion position and a Catholic who rejects the church.

He openly holds Trump, Bolsonaro and the Spanish Vox party in high regard, despite the fact that these figures are generally associated with right and far right social positions. Is this because he holds a wide variety of political stances or is he simply a right-wing populist like the men he admires? It’s hard to tell, but it seems his firebrand politics is attracting a growing audience and stripping the center-right of its votes.

The Right in Argentina

Milei represents a broader rightward swing toward the right in Latin America, referred to as the ‘blue wave’. This rightward turn has four underlying causes.

  • The election of leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro has given powerful validation to right-wing groups around the world. Emboldened by their feisty politics and hot takes, more extreme conservatives feel valid in voicing their opinions in public.
  • Both the centre-left and the centre-right, under Fernandez de Kirchner, Macri and Fernandez respectively, have frustrated the Argentine public through failing to address key issues such as debt, corruption and a clear idea of what Argentine foreign policy should be with regard to its neighbors in Latin America.
  • Covid-19 has exacerbated these problems, forcing the public to consider voting for more extreme leaders on both sides of the spectrum in search of clearer solutions.
  • The rise of the internet age has seen right-wing pundits and media personalities (especially more extreme versions like Milei) who can use their media attention to attract more votes.

A New Era of Argentine Politics?

Is this movement towards the right a trend, or a major tectonic shift in the political landscape? It’s difficult to tell at this point so you’re better off betting on the apuestas deportivas Chile offers. Argentine politics is undoubtedly unique, and Milei’s party is a small player, but these underlying causes aren’t going anywhere.