Argentina’s recently inaugurated far-right president, Javier Milei, has declared his commitment to implementing economic “shock treatment” in his inaugural address.

He emphasized the country’s financial constraints, stating that “there is no money” and reiterated his dedication to an austerity program aimed at addressing Argentina’s economic challenges.

Milei, a populist outsider who secured a surprising election victory in November, conducted his inauguration in Buenos Aires on Sunday. In a speech marked by pomp and ceremony, the 53-year-old outlined his unconventional economic approach, intending to break from the patterns of previous administrations.

He pledged to undo “decades of decadence” through significant spending cuts, targeting substantial public debts and the soaring inflation rate, currently exceeding 140%.

Asserting that austerity and shock treatment are the only viable options, Milei acknowledged the short-term challenges but expressed confidence in the eventual positive outcomes of his efforts.

During a procession to the presidential palace, Milei, accompanied by his influential sister Karina, interacted with supporters. He addressed the crowd, reiterating campaign slogans, and received the presidential sash and baton, customized with engravings of his five dogs.

Milei, known for his rapid ascent from obscurity to Argentina’s highest office, advocates a right-wing platform that includes restrictions on abortion rights, liberalizing gun laws, and climate change denial. Drawing comparisons to former US President Donald Trump and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Milei gained attention during the campaign for wielding a chainsaw.

While wielding significant executive powers, Milei faces political challenges in Congress, where his coalition of small right-wing and libertarian parties holds a minority representation.

The Argentine peso is experiencing a prolonged decline, with poverty levels at 40%, and the economy is officially in a deep recession, according to IMF data.
Observers are keenly watching Milei’s governing approach, with some noting a more moderate tone post-election. Nevertheless, shortly after taking office, he signed a decree to reduce the number of government departments, fulfilling a key campaign promise.

Notable attendees at the inauguration included Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Hungarian President Viktor Orban, who shares ideological similarities with Milei.

Last Updated: 11 December 2023