Lucas Romero takes stock of the Argentine president's first months. Support for Milei is unwavering, he notes.

A man sings with all his passion.

Argentine President Javier Milei sings the national anthem during an official ceremony in Buenos Aires in April 2024 Photo: Natacha Pisarenko/ap

taz: Mr. Romero, you will be leaving in a few months at the latest. That was a popular opinion when libertarian Javier Milei took office in December. But today he seems to be more firmly in power than then. How do you achieve that?

Lucas Romero: Milei takes advantage of the illusion and the lack of alternative. These two components best explain her support. The majority of society has a huge need to believe that Milei's policies are working. And this desire to believe makes people patient despite the rigorous policies of adjustment and austerity. The real question is how long and how much suffering will they endure before they feel rewarded by the results or will their patience run out.

The 47-year-old political scientist and analyst at the Buenos Aires Sinopsis polling institute.

And the missing alternative?

Milei's Security Minister and his Defense Minister were the duo of conservative candidates who competed in the elections. The integration of the conservative opposition into the government was a smart move. In this way, Milei has become the only alternative to the expelled Peronism, whose return a large part of the population does not want at all.

How has support for the president evolved?

The support is uninterrupted. Of the 100 respondents who voted for Milei in the second round of the November elections, 97 have so far maintained their decision, which is very notable given the economic and social situation. Another number also shows their enormous support. In the second round she obtained 43 percent of the votes of all eligible voters. If you convert current poll numbers into votes, Milei would have even more votes today than she did back then.

Has Argentine society definitively moved to the right?

When a government fails, society reevaluates alternatives. In the case of Argentina, a government that defended redistribution and a central role for the State failed. Perhaps because the State took a leading role in this economic decline, while at the same time its personnel and spending increased significantly, people today have a negative view of the State. Milei is primarily a reaction to this failure or disappearance of a moderate left hegemony and a re-evaluation of right and moderate right ideas. When it comes to political polarization, Milei has created a balance. The left pole is still the former president Cristina Kirchner and the right is now the populism that Milei represents. However, as an anarcho-capitalist, he does not have any nationalist component since he despises the State and the nation.

However, many view Milei as politically weak.

Milei is undoubtedly the politically weakest president since the return to democracy in 1983. His greatest flaw is his lack of autonomy to make decisions. In the Senate he only has one tenth of the seats and in the House of Representatives he has one fifteenth. To pass laws, he needs agreements with many actors.

In which social classes does Milei have the greatest support?

In socioeconomic terms, between the highest and lowest income groups. However, the fact that Milei is well received by the poor does not mean that the majority of the poor no longer vote for Peronism. This continues to be based on the lowest income brackets. If macroeconomic corrections through the president's policies further worsen social and economic conditions – that is, even more inflation, even less purchasing power and consumption, possibly less work and more poverty – this, above all, will not affect the majority of his voters or supporters. The protests will increase.

How do you rate the president after almost four months in office?

Milei describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist whose theory is that the state is a criminal organization and believes that Argentina would be better off with dollarization and closing the central bank. In practice, however, Milei behaves like someone who wants to reduce the State to a minimum. Due to his political weakness, he attempts to implement a program that is more liberal than libertarian. But if the State disappears and the population's problems are still not resolved, we could experience a backward role and the State will return as a solution to social problems.