Argentina went to the polls on Sunday, October 22, against a backdrop of soaring inflation at 138% and widespread disillusionment with the political landscape. With three main contenders, the choices for the presidency were stark. On one side, Javier Milei, an ultraliberal economist, advocates for a drastic reduction of the state and the dollarization of the economy. On the other hand, Patricia Bullrich, a former right-wing minister, promised a tough stance against “professional strikers” and crime. In addition, Sergio Massa, a center-left Minister of Economy, struggled to combat record inflation and a poverty rate exceeding 40%, pledging that “the worst [will soon] be over.”
With approximately 35% of the vote, according to recent polls, Javier Milei was almost assured of advancing to the second round. He repeatedly asserted that victory on Sunday night was within reach. It is true that polls significantly underestimated his support during the mandatory primaries in mid-August, and the Argentine electoral system allows a candidate to win in the first round if they receive 45% of the votes, or 40%, with a lead of at least 10 points over their nearest rival.
Behind Milei, Sergio Massa and Patricia Bullrich together garnered around 30% of the vote and competed for a place in the runoff, with a few points’ advantage for Massa.
Milei’s dominance reflects the resignation of many voters amid over a decade of economic stagnation. It also underscores dissatisfaction with the two major political blocs that have dominated Argentine politics in the last 20 years: a Peronist coalition (center-left), in power from 2003 to 2015 and, since 2019, under outgoing President Alberto Fernández, and a center-right bloc that governed from 2015 to 2019 under Mauricio Macri. The election outcome holds significant implications for the country’s economic and political future.