Liberland: Populism, Peronism, and Madness in Argentina

For Carlos Pagni  1 Too many electoral results are described as earthquakes when in reality they are little more than mild tremors, but the self-described anarcho-capitalist Javier Milei’s victory in the second and deciding round of Argentina’s presidential election over Sergio Massa, the sitting minister of the economy in the former Peronist government, who in the eyes of many Argentines across the political spectrum has wielded far more power than the country’s president, Alberto Fernández, truly does represent a seismic shift in Argentine politics, the radical untuning of its political sky. On this, ardent pro-Peronists such as Horacio Verbitsky, editor of the left online magazine El Cohete a la Luna, and some of Peronism’s most perceptive and incisive critics, notably the historian Carlos Pagni – people who agree on virtually nothing else – find themselves in complete accord. “Demographically and generationally,” Verbitsky wrote, “a new political period is beginning in [Argentina].” For his part, Pagni compared the situation in which Argentina now finds itself, to “the proverbial terra incognita beloved of medieval cartographers,” and “heading down a path it had never before explored” — a new era in Argentine political history.   The  country’s disastrous economic and social situation was the work of successive governments, but above all its last two – the center-right administration of Mauricio Macri between 2015 and 2019, and the Peronist restoration in the form of Alberto Fernández´s government between 2019 and 2023, in which Fernández was forced for all intents and purposes to share power with his vice-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who had been Macri´s predecessor as president for two successive terms, from 2007 to 2015, having succeeded her husband Néstor, who was president between 2003 and 2007. Cristina (virtually every Argentine refers to her by her first name) remains — for the moment,

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