In a shocking shift following the Argentine primary elections in August, which saw the victory of far-right Javier Milei, center-left Sergio Massa pulled ahead in the first round of presidential elections in the country.
Far-right libertarian Milei made international headlines for his outrageous statements and claims such as in October when he claimed the number of people disappeared by the Argentine military dictatorship was just under 9,000, instead of the widely accepted 30,000. Massa, of the Union for the Homeland coalition, received 37% of the vote, while Milei only received 30%.
Milei and Massa will have a final showdown in the runoff elections on November 19.
In light of a pleasant surprise for those opposed to a far-right victory in Argentina, Manuel Bertoldi, a leader of the Rural Federation for Production and Permanence and Alba Movimientos, analyzes this latest success and what it means for the Argentine left.
- What happened in these last elections was novel because the government is facing one of the worst economic crises, with a 120% devaluation of the national currency, and the government’s candidate for president was the Minister of Economy.
- The IMF and international financial capital have strongly conditioned and destabilized the national economy, being the main tool of the last months. The help of China with two loans (one last week) has made it possible to stop the run towards the dollar, which was openly encouraged by the two right-wing political expressions. The latter was not well taken by our people.
- The Argentine people have shown that there are certain rights that they are not willing to give up. While there are strong criticisms of “traditional politicians” and the functioning of the state, the neoliberal discourse is not a proposal that responds to the majorities. The standards of free public health and education, for example, are safeguards for building a country with social justice.
- The denialist discourses on the military dictatorship and human rights were also rejected.
- In geopolitical terms, the explicit desire to break off relations with Brazil and China made sectors of economic power uncomfortable. The hateful remarks about Pope Francis were not well received by the religious community either.
- The ruling party came back from a loss and won in 6 important provinces. The Together for Change coalition was only victorious in the federal capital.
- One of the keys to the victory was the resounding victory of Axel Kiciloff as governor in the province of Buenos Aires. The province contributed 37% of the national votes. The management in the province is valued as the main pillar of the campaign, which paid off. He won with a 20 point lead, contributing a large number of votes to the national victory. Key districts within the province of Buenos Aires were won, such as its capital city La Plata and Bahía Blanca, two of the three most important cities in the province.
- The runoff election will take place on November 19 with a favorable scenario for the candidate of the ruling party due to three elements. The first one is that it is likely that the flow of voters for November will continue to rise. This favors Sergio Massa. The second element is that the votes of the Trotskyism and the Governor of Córdoba (10 points), would have to go to the ruling progressive party. As a third element, Together for Change is very likely to fracture and that radicalism (represented by the Radical Civic Union party), which has an important national structure, does not want to support Milei but the candidate of the ruling party. With these forecasts, a Massa victory in November is possible.
- After the results of the last elections, the extreme right candidate had to moderate his discourse as a result of this rapid evaluation. His discourse of chaos and hatred did not help him to increase the difference and it will be necessary for him moderate it to call for the vote of Together for Change, otherwise they will go to Massa.
- The scenario is open. The dispute and the work continues to build a victory that will allow the popular camp to have better conditions to fight for our conquests and needs. The need for popular organization and mobilization will continue to be the challenge for our camp in any of the future scenarios.
Manuel Bertoldi is a leader of the Rural Federation for Production and Permanence and ALBA Movimientos. He is part of the secretariat of the International Peoples Assembly.