Argentina’s Economy Minister Sergio Massa concedes defeat to populist in presidential runoff

By Daniel Politi and David Biller | Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s Economy Minister Sergio Massa has conceded defeat to populist Javier Milei in Sunday’s presidential runoff before the country’s electoral authority released official results.

Because the voting is conducted by paper ballots, the timing of the final result is unpredictable.

The highly polarized election will determine whether South America’s second-largest economy will continue with a center-left administration or elect a freshman lawmaker who describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist and has often been compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Milei made headlines with his unconventional proposals that include making the U.S. dollar the official currency as a way of ending the scourge of triple-digit inflation.

Massa, who received 7 percentage points more than Milei in the first round of voting last month, spent the final weeks of the campaign warning how his opponent’s proposal to slash the size of the state would threaten public services, including health and education.

Milei, for his part, accused Massa and his allies of fear-mongering. Throughout the campaign, Milei said the nation’s leadership needed a broad shakeup in order to tackle the country’s perennial economic woes. He cast Massa as the example of the “political caste” that has enriched itself at the cost of the people.

Argentines cast their votes for a new president Sunday in a fiercely polarizing runoff that will determine whether South America’s second-largest economy takes a rightward shift amid soaring inflation and rising poverty.

Inflation has soared above 140% and poverty has worsened while Massa has held his post. Milei proposes to slash the size of the state and rein in inflation, and the government minister he is running against has warned people about the negative impacts of such policies.

The election is forcing many to decide which of the two they considered to be the least bad choice.

“Whatever happens in this election will be incredible,” Lucas Romero, director of local political consultancy Synopsis, said. “It would be incredible for Massa to win in this economic context or for Milei to win facing a candidate as professional as Massa.”

Milei went from blasting the country’s “political caste” on TV to winning a lawmaker seat two years ago. The economist’s screeds resonated widely with Argentines angered by their struggle to make ends meet, particularly young men.

“Money covers less and less each day. I’m a qualified individual, and my salary isn’t enough for anything,” Esteban Medina, a 26-year-old physical therapist from Ezeiza, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a Milei rally earlier this week.

Massa, as one of the most prominent figures in a deeply unpopular administration, was once seen as having little chance of victory. But he managed to mobilize the networks of his Peronist party and clinched a decisive first-place finish in the first round of voting.

His campaign cautioned Argentines that his libertarian opponent’s plan to eliminate key ministries and otherwise sharply curtail the state would threaten public services, including health and education, and welfare programs many rely on. Massa …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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