Argentina: President Milei ready to pass his reforms “with or without” political support

For his first speech on the state of the nation, the ultraliberal Argentine President, Javier Milei, showed himself faithful to his transgressive style, affirming that he was determined to push his reforms further at all costs in the face of parliamentarians who, at the beginning of February, had withdrawn its ambitious package of deregulation and budgetary austerity measures

Argentina: President Milei ready to pass his reforms “with or without” political support

For his first speech on the state of the nation, the ultraliberal Argentine President, Javier Milei, showed himself faithful to his transgressive style, affirming that he was determined to push his reforms further at all costs in the face of parliamentarians who, at the beginning of February, had withdrawn its ambitious package of deregulation and budgetary austerity measures.

“We are going to change the country for good (…) with or without the support of political leaders, with all the legal resources of the executive,” declared Mr. Milei on Friday March 1 in an offensive speech. He reminded the deputies - that in recent weeks he had been calling "rats' nest", "corrupt", "symbols of political caste" - that by decree, regulatory modifications, or draft laws, he has tools for “fighting the budget deficit, which is the mother of battles for us”.

“If you seek conflict, you will have conflict,” he said, specifying that “if the path of confrontation is not the one we choose, we do not flee from it (…) You will find yourself facing to an animal different from those you are used to.”

Hand held out

However, for almost three months, the Head of State has extended a hand to the entire political class, to influential provincial governors, party leaders, ex-presidents, to forge a “new social contract” for the country, on the basis of ten eminently liberal principles: "non-negotiable" budgetary balance, "inviolable" private property, public spending reduced to the "historic" level of 25% of GDP, in particular. This "May Pact", as it baptized it, would be signed in Cordoba, symbolically on May 25, the anniversary of the revolution of 1810 which led to the independence of Argentina in 1816.

On the social level, Javier Milei asked Argentines for "patience and confidence", despite the impact of the first budgetary austerity measures (devaluation of more than 50%, price liberalization, end of numerous subsidies) which, in the short term , give a boost to inflation and lead to a decline in economic activity.

“It still takes time before we can reap the benefits of the economic consolidation and reforms we are implementing (…) but for the first time in history, we are attacking the problem by its cause. For this I ask you for patience and trust,” he said. “The effort will be worth it” assured them Mr. Milei, whose government in less than three months carried out a devaluation of more than 50%, price liberalization, broad deregulation and drastic budget cuts.

Draft “anti-caste law”

Mr. Milei had scheduled his speech at prime time (9 p.m. local time) so that “as many Argentines as possible could listen to the president after work,” according to the presidency. He took a long inventory of twenty years of “impoverishing” government policy, calling it “morally bankrupt and intrinsically unjust” which only benefited a “political caste.” He also announced a draft “anti-caste law”, with various proposals, including a limit on the mandates of union leaders, the reduction in the number of parliamentary assistants, and the end of benefits for ex-presidents.

The Argentine president also announced the closure of the public press agency Télam, subservient, according to him, to former Peronist president Cristina Kirchner. “We are going to close the Télam agency which has been used in recent decades as a Kirchnerist propaganda agency,” he said without providing details.

In February, Mr. Milei's government announced that it intended to "modify the organic and functional structure" of all public media, including Télam as well as national radio and television. Founded in 1945, Télam has more than 700 employees and broadcasts around 500 national news reports, 200 photos as well as video and radio content every day.