The second largest country in South America is on the threshold of fundamental changes. The head of Argentina will be the eccentric economist Javier Milei, who describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist. His plans to liquidate the central bank or most ministries attracted widespread attention. Where will Argentina go under the new president?
What you will also hear in today’s episode at 5:59
- Why will Argentina be led by a man who promises an unprecedented political revolution.
- If far-right libertarian Javier Milei pushes through with his radical plans.
- That the election of the head of state also attracted the attention of the way in which both rivals used AI tools.
The triumph of the government candidate was expected, but in the end the Argentines chose the path of a major political turnaround in Sunday’s elections. Libertarian Javier Milei also won with a comfortable majority. The economist and far-right populist won 56 percent of the vote, leaving his leftist rival, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, far behind.
“Argentina has never had such a president. “Milei claims that he will bring the country back to prominence – and he wants to do it literally with domestic shock therapy,” says journalist and editor of the 5:59 Seznam Zpráv podcast Eduard Freisler, who has been working on South and Latin America for a long time.
The journalist draws attention to the fact that the elected head of state is a very extravagant and controversial figure. In the pre-election campaign, Mileia wore a leather jacket, untidy hair and profanity. However, his ideas for managing the entire country are also unconventional.
“I dare to say that he will turn Argentina into a kind of laboratory of anarchist capitalism, as he likes to call his visions and plans,” Freisler describes the plans, which include the end of public procurement or the abolition of the central bank and dozens of the existing 18 ministries. Milei often presented this ministerial cut very energetically.
From the point of view of the future president, Argentina should do without, for example, departments of transport or gender equality. Milei calls for large-scale privatization of education and energy and claims that people will do better without the state than with it. According to the journalist Seznam Zpráv, the emergence of such a leader is rare: “We have never experienced a politician who would not only shrink the state, but practically destroy it like this.”
Why Argentinians chose gambling
In any case, candidate Milei did not hide his radical program from the voters. And then he won by a comfortable margin – which may come as a surprise given that Argentinians are historically more left-leaning. However, the long economic suffering of the entire country, in which inflation reaches 140 percent and where two out of five inhabitants live in poverty, spoke to the outcome of the election. According to Freisler, the campaign of the defeated Sergio Massa underestimated the “anxiety” in which Argentines have been for several years due to the deep economic crisis.
An Argentine journalist also offers a similar assessment in the 5:59 podcast Daniel Ulanovsky, with whom Freisler spoke. According to him, it is not the case that the people of Argentina would perhaps find a new liking in far-right politics. But many are said to be in such a desperate situation that they decided to vote for a gamble named Javier Milei.
“The (previous) governments were very populist. They promised something, but did something completely different. They claimed to the people that they were concerned with the general welfare. (…) But the reality was completely different, it was the reality of social exclusion and poverty. So the people decided to elect Javier Milei somewhat out of spite,” explains Ulanovsky, who works for Argentina’s largest newspaper, Clarín.
But it remains to be seen to what extent the new president, who will take office on December 10, can really shake up Argentina. Although his powers allow him to independently dissolve ministries, he also needs the approval of parliament for large-scale economic reforms. Which will be difficult to say the least given his low support in both chambers.
“Pandora’s box” with artificial intelligence
In addition to the election of the rebel Mileia, however, the presidential elections in Argentina were also interesting in another way – the artificial intelligence tool played a prominent role in the campaign. For example, Sergio Massa’s team used AI to create an image for their candidate that was supposed to build an atmosphere of unity, togetherness and brotherhood. Posters of the left-wing politician as a leader and savior surrounded by masses of people have appeared all over Argentina and on the Internet.
But while Massa’s face was embodied by his team with the help of artificial intelligence into well-known movie heroes like MacGyver or Indiana Jones, his opponent “played” a significantly more negative role. Massa’s campaign, for example, assigned Mileia the role of the villain Alex from the cult film A Clockwork Orange.
Have you ever imagined Sergio Massa in action scenes and other film classics? 😱 👉🏼 The TikTok account @iaxlapatria made it possible through AI. 💪🏻 We can see it in movies like #Matrix, Jurassicpark, #Indianajones among others. DOES IT DESERVE AN OSCAR FOR YOU?
♬ original sound – JornadaWeb – JornadaWeb
“We really saw in that campaign that both sides were using tools to create different graphics or deepfake videos like that,” another 5:59 podcast guest, the political scientist, says Jaroslav Bilek from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University, who focuses on Latin America and election manipulation. According to him, the use of AI allowed both competing teams to react very quickly to new themes in the campaign. While the preparation of classic posters takes days to weeks, using modern technologies is much faster.
But the election campaign for the use of artificial intelligence also brings negatives. “We are opening Pandora’s box with this and we don’t quite know what it will lead to,” says Bílek. He is particularly concerned about possible misuse by authoritarian regimes, which may gain a new tool in their manipulation repertoire due to AI. However, these procedures can play a negative role even where a very close election result can be expected. The winner can only be decided by the one who finds a more effective way of using AI.
In any case, according to Bílek, it is obvious that no one will return similar tools to the box. They will stay here with us. “Teams of candidates (in elections) should prepare themselves how to use them. Or how to prevent the other party from using them. Which is, of course, a battle that is at the beginning and in which the individual parties will react to each other,” adds political scientist Bílek.
In the 5:59 podcast, you will also learn more about why Argentina has fallen into such a deep economic crisis and how poverty affects the lives of its people. Listen in the player at the beginning of the article.
Editor a koeditor: Dominika Kubištová, Matěj Válek
Sound design: David Kaiser
Sources of audio samples: ČT24, Czech Radio Plus, YouTube – Javier Milei, YT – BBC News, YT – MILENIO, YT – Telenoche, X – Ian Bremmer (@ianbremmer), Instagram – iaxlapatria
The news podcast of Lenka Kabrhelova’s team. One essential topic every weekday in minute six. The most important events in the Czech Republic, in the world, politics, economy, sport and culture through the lens of Seznam Zpráv.
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