Javier Milei pledged a “new era” for Argentina as he was sworn in as the country’s new president on Sunday, sealing the ascent of a political newcomer who garnered popularity by advocating shock economic reforms.
Milei is an economist and former political commentator who took to wielding a chainsaw on the campaign to symbolise his intent to slash spending. His rise surprised Argentina’s political establishment, drawing comparisons with former US President Donald Trump.
The swearing-in ceremony was presided over by Milei’s predecessor Alberto Fernandez before the nation’s congress in Buenos Aires. Milei took the oath before giving his first speech as president, vowing to introduce sweeping changes and reflecting that “Argentineans had overwhelmingly expressed their desire for change that has no turning back.”
Several prominent figures were in attendance at the ceremony, including Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and Jair Bolsonaro, the former president of Brazil.
Later, greeting supporters from the iconic Casa Rosada, Milei sang a short song and told the crowd: “I want you to be aware that we are going to begin the reconstruction of Argentina after more than a hundred years of decline, redrawing the ideas of freedom, although we are going to have to endure a period of hardness, we will move forward.”
“We are going to be a power again,” he added.
Milei waves to supporters after his swearing-in ceremony.Natacha Pisarenko/AP
Supporters of Milei gather outside Congress during the ceremony.Emiliano Lasalvia/AFP/Getty Images
Milei, 53, was elected president in the runoff on November 19 with 55.9% of the votes against the 44% obtained by Sergio Massa, the current finance minister.
He gained national prominence after winning the elections, promising radical reforms such as dollarization and austerity to address Argentina’s economic challenges.
He has already met with top US officials in Washington, and his economic team has collaborated with IMF officers to formulate a plan aimed at reshaping the country’s foreign policy and guiding its economy out of the current crisis.
Milei entered the race as a political outsider on a promise to “break up with the status quo” – exemplified by his rival Massa, a career politician.
His campaign promise to dollarize, if enacted, could thrust the country into new territory: no country of Argentina’s size has previously turned over the reins of its own monetary policy to Washington decision-makers.
Milei, a social conservative with ties to the American right, opposes abortion rights and has called climate change a “lie of socialism.”
He has promised to slash government spending by closing Argentina’s ministries of culture, education, and diversity, and by eliminating public subsidies.
Milei’s political program also includes slashing regulations on gun control and transferring authority over the penitentiary system from civilians to the military; both measures part of a tough-on-crime approach.
Source : CNN World