Argentina’s libertarian president-elect Javier Milei’s victory over the weekend provoked mixed reactions around the world – including hostility from some Latin American leftists, tentative support from others and a promise from China to work with him despite your critical comments.
Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist, channeled voters’ anger over a deep economic crisis and years of economic dysfunction to win by double digits in Sunday’s runoff.
The former television commentator is expected to take the reins of power next month, decisively moving Argentina away from the center-left Peronist government of outgoing president Alberto Fernández.
Asked for his reaction on Tuesday, Mexico’s left-wing president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said he respected the voters’ verdict but added that he believed Milei’s victory was unlikely to alleviate Argentina’s problems.
“This is something that we don’t believe will help,” López Obrador told reporters. He later applied a football term to describe the outsider’s victory: “It was an own goal”.
Bolivia’s former leftist president Evo Morales, a close ally of previous Peronist governments in Buenos Aires, took to social media on Tuesday to assert that he would never “wish success to fascism, ultraconservatism and neoliberalism.”
Leftist leaders in Venezuela and Colombia also lamented the results of Sunday’s elections. Colombian President Gustavo Petro described the result in a post on X as “sad for Latin America.”
But other leftist Latin American leaders were more supportive. The president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, and the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, wished Milei well.
Lula’s congratulations came despite Milei’s harsh criticism of the Brazilian leader during the campaign, where at one point Milei labeled Lula an “angry communist” and corrupt.
“Democracy is the voice of the people and must always be respected,” Lula said on social media on Sunday. However, a close aide to Lula said Milei had offended the Brazilian leader and owed him an apology before any negotiations could begin.
Others outside the region, for whom Milei showed little friendship, were also diplomatic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Milei, mostly ignoring his past support for Ukraine in its war with Moscow, as well as indications that Argentina will not join the Russian-backed BRICS group under Milei’s leadership.
“We will focus and judge (Milei) mainly on the statements he makes after taking office,” said the Kremlin spokesman.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Beijing was ready to work with Argentina to “keep relations on a stable course” despite some critical comments from Milei’s team during the campaign.
Milei found enthusiastic support among right-wing populists, including former US president Donald Trump, who told Milei in a video to “make Argentina great again”, and former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, whom Lula narrowly defeated in the last year.
“I’m very happy,” Bolsonaro said in a video call with Argentina’s next president. “You have a big job ahead of you… and it’s a job that goes beyond Argentina,” said Bolsonaro, while raising his fist in the air.
The leader of the Spanish far-right party Vox congratulated Milei, while the leader of Chile’s right-wing opposition, José Antonio Kast, announced his “resounding victory”.
The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, who also rode a wave of popular discontent until he took office, reacted with a riff on the song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from the musical “Evita”. But he put a positive spin on it.
“Now say it without crying,” wrote Bukele in a post on X.