In an unexpected twist of the Argentine political panorama, libertarian deputy Javier Gerardo Milei won out comfortably in the run-off over his Unión por la Patria rival Sergio Massa. He will now be Argentina’s president for the next four years.
The La Libertad Avanza leader pulled off a double-digit margin victory over his economy minister opponent in a result representing the start of a new era in national politics. Yet the start of his own political career was anything but conventional in comparison with other leaders. He arrives to power with little to no party structure.
Milei only became known in the media as an economic commentator. The 53-year-old’s eccentricities and his vehement denunciations of “the caste” wasted no time in making him famous. Many soon started to adhere to that rejection concentrating the political disenchantment of millions of Argentines in a context of economic crisis and constant devaluation of the national currency.
The “caste,” as affirmed by Milei, are those who implement policies “harming people… to protect” their own privileges while arguing that they can do no other.
“The caste are the corrupt politicians, the businessmen living off state contracts and bribed journalists,” he has commented on more than one occasion.
Studies and professional career
Argentina’s president-elect has an economics degree from the University of Belgrano. He also has postgraduate work in economic theory at the Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social and a postgraduate degree in economics at the Universidad Torcuato DiTella.
He later headed Máxima AFJP private pension fund in a system designed by then-economy minister Domingo Cavallo. Another job striking attention was advising Antonio Bussi, the ex-general convicted for crimes against humanity who served as democratically elected governor of Tucumán Province between 1995 and 1999.
Facing questions over his decision to accept the role, the La Libertad Avanza leader later explained via Twitter his motives for taking this six-month job: “There were some issues affecting the province of Tucumán which needed an economist to analyse the laws seeking approval. When it was over, I left.”
As an economist, Milei worked many years for one of Argentina’s richest men, billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian, as a financial analyst for his group Corporación América. He entered the firm in 2008 and left in 2021 when he was elected deputy in the midterm elections.
Although maintaining a cordial relationship, Eurnekian has recently distanced himself from the libertarian leader following to his fierce criticism of Pope Francis.
Javier Milei was born in Buenos Aires City on October 22, 1970. The first round of this year’s presidential election coincided with his birthday, which the deputy did not celebrate too heartily because he was trailing Massa by over six percentage points. Last Sunday, however, that all changed.
During a television interview, Milei once admitted to a troubled childhood and repeated problems with his parents, Norberto Horacio Milei and Alicia Lujan Lucich. He was brought up from a very young age by his sister Karina, his campaign manager whom he fondly defines as the person who knows him best and “the great architect” of his political events.
Nevertheless, not all was gloomy – in his adolescence, Milei played in the lower ranks for the Chacarita Juniors football club, becoming known as ‘El Loco’ by his former teammates. His father, who had an economic agreement with the club, steered him into becoming substitute goalkeeper, thus doing justice to his sporting abilities (he was better than the first pick, they say at the club) and permitting him to play in several matches.
Although Milei has no children, he shares his home with five English mastiffs of around 100 kilos each, whom he considers to replace his family. In recent years, the economist’s parents have drawn a bit closer to their son, granting more dialogue with the local press about him.
In the general elections, after voting, Norberto, 80, told Perfil: "I hope he does well for my sake and that of all Argentines. Let the people choose, they know what they’re doing but change is needed."
Soon after learning the official results of the run-off, the transport businessman said: “Javier is very happy, we spoke over the telephone and he told us to come on over.” They greeted each other at the La Libertad Avanza bunker last Sunday night after Milei’s victory speech.
Milei and religion
Despite being Catholic, the libertarian has an intense relationship with Judaism, which he has manifested in several actions and public statements. Milei has further revealed that he approached the rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish in early 2021, that he wishes to convert to the religion and highlights that his international partners during his government will be Israel and the United States.
Indeed, Milei’s relationship with Catholicism is distant and conflict-ridden. He has criticised Pope Francis, describing him as a "Jesuit promoting Communism," "an embarrassing and sinister personage" and even "the representative of evil on Earth."
These statements intruded into the presidential debates prior to the general elections and for the run-off soon became a meme for the social network when Massa required him “ask the Pope’s pardon.” Milei replied that he had already done so and that if the Pope came to Argentina during his presidency, "he would be received with the honours due to a head of state."
The Argentine pontiff communicated with Milei in the wake of the election and the two shared a “pleasant and good dialogue,” said party sources, with the president-elect inviting him to his homeland. "You will be received with the honors of a head of state. It would be very good for Argentines if you traveled and visited us," the president-elect reportedly told him.
Milei has always shown himself to be very close to Judaism, even linking his leadership to the story of Moses.
"The logical thing would be for Kari to be Moses and me to be Aaron. Because Moses was a great leader and, if you will, connected to The One [God] but he was not a good orator and did not explain himself well so The One sent him Aaron to take care of the communication. That’s how we work. I call my sister 'the boss'," he has explained on other occasions.
According to Milei’s biographer, the libertarian believes God spoke to him in 2017 and told him he had a “mission” to become president and solve Argentina’s economic decline.
Relationship with Fátima Florez
When closing his campaign at the Movistar Arena, many tried to decipher the body language between Javier Milei and his show business girlfriend, Fátima Florez. Social network users highlight his love story with Florez, an imitator and performer who sprang to fame personifying one of the pet targets of Milei’s attacks in his speeches: ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
The romance began when the actress’s press manager Alejandro Veroutis invited the La Libertad Avanza presidential candidate to see her at the theatre, but the couple already knew each other courtesy of veteran TV presenter Mirtha Legrand and a recording of her La noche de Mirtha last December 2.
The economist and the imitator sat next to each other at the table, exchanging jokes. This year they were together again in a new edition of the lunches of the iconic hostess signifying her return to television.
Puzzled by their demonstrations of affection Legrand blurted out with her characteristic humour: “You’re an odd couple you two, eh.”
This is not the first time that show business has entered the candidate’s love life. Beforehand he had gone out with the singer Daniel Mori, a relationship the duo publicised on various television programmes.