MJavier Milei stayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for a few minutes on Tuesday. Then he burst into tears. The Argentine president is currently making his first state visit to Israel and met with President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In recent years, Milei has become closer to Judaism, to which he also wants to convert.
Argentina is home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America. Milei wants to demonstrate his solidarity with the State of Israel by moving the Argentine embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Evidence of procedural errors
Where his tears came from on Tuesday remains Milei's secret. What is certain is that the situation in Argentina also gives good reasons to complain and cry. Milei has suffered a severe setback there in the past few days. His comprehensive reform package, which is intended to create the conditions for the privatization of state institutions, changes to hundreds of regulations and measures to cut state subsidies, has been so thoroughly dismembered in the House of Representatives that it is now being sent back to committee and thus back to square one.
Milei, whose libertarian alliance only has 38 of the 257 seats in the lower house, is dependent on the support of the bourgeois bloc. The government was prepared to make far-reaching compromises before and during the debate in the House of Commons. For example, the central chapter on fiscal policy was deleted from the law so that it could be dealt with individually at a later date.
In the end, almost half of all the articles from the original draft remained. A majority of MPs then approved the overall draft, which Milei and his government celebrated as a success. However, the subsequent votes on the individual articles showed that the MPs had not yet finished whittling down the package – now it goes back to committee.
There are many indications that the return was only made possible by a procedural error by Milei's inexperienced representatives in parliament. However, Milei claims that he personally initiated the move. At the same time, he accused opposition lawmakers of treason for opposing the reforms he sees as necessary to lift Argentina out of its worst economic crisis in decades and curb inflation from more than 200 percent.
On Platform X he insulted opponents of the reforms as part of the political “caste”. “We are not prepared to negotiate with those who destroyed the country,” he wrote from Israel. Meanwhile, Milei's government spokesman Manuel Adorni said at his daily press conference on Wednesday that the government was looking for ways to keep the law alive. All constitutional remedies would be examined. “At some point the law will become reality.” The government is considering, among other things, dividing the law into several individual laws.
Demonstrations and clashes
However, Milei and his government face a tough political battle of attrition. The lower house is the smaller of the two hurdles that the reform package has to overcome. In the Senate, which also has to discuss and vote on the matter after the representatives have approved it, the majority situation is even more disadvantageous. There, Milei's party only has seven of 72 senators.
A cold wind also blows towards Milei from the street. During the first debate in the House of Commons, there were almost daily demonstrations by left-wing movements and clashes with the police in front of Congress. This scenario will soon become commonplace. To build popular counter-pressure and gain congressional support for the reforms, the government is also considering the possibility of a non-binding referendum.
Until then, Milei will probably have to rely on higher powers. Maybe that's why he's planning to travel on to Rome this Friday. There he wants to meet Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis and take part in the canonization ceremony of the Argentine nun María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa.
It remains to be seen whether the Pope will shake hands with his compatriot Milei. After all, Milei had insulted the church leader during the election campaign as the “representative of evil” on earth. After winning the election, he apologized and invited Francis to visit Argentina.