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Right-wing victory in Argentina’s presidential election, a sign of change in the leftward tilt of Latin American countries?

Argentina’s presidential election run-off was held on 19 November 2023. Right-wing Congressman Javier Millay won against Sergio Massa, Minister of Economy from the anti-US left-wing and ruling coalition.

The presidential election marks the transition from a centre-right government (Mauricio Macri’s government) to a left-wing government (Alberto Fernández’s government) in December 2019, with the right-wing government to run the country for the next four years.

The Fernández administration had distanced itself from the US and provided generous support to the economically vulnerable through a policy of roaming, but Argentina was facing a number of challenges, including high domestic inflation.

Mr Millay, who won this time, is expected to aim for a ‘small government’. A libertarian, he has advocated drastic reforms such as the dollarisation of the economy and the abolition of the central bank, in addition to drastic reductions in expenditure. It is expected to strengthen relations with the US, centred on a pro-US policy.

In Latin America, left-wing governments have emerged one after another over the past few years. In Brazil, Mr Lula (former President: January 2003 – January 2011), a member of the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT), took office as the new President in January 2023 and has drastically changed his policies. Argentina also saw a move by the leftist Fernández government to strengthen its ties with Mr Lula.

Since assuming the presidency, Mr Lula has moved to strengthen relations with China, as he did during his previous presidency: in April 2023, he visited China and held a summit with President Xi Jinping. It has also begun to improve relations with Venezuela, where relations with the US have deteriorated, and held a summit with President Maduro in May 2023. There is also a situation where South American countries, including Venezuela, are seeking to strengthen leftist-led cooperation.

The Lula administration is strongly anti-American, and there are indications that it is aiming to strengthen cooperation with emerging countries, including the BRICS, and to reduce US global influence. In order to strengthen its global voice, it has been decided that a total of six new countries, including Argentina, Iran and Saudi Arabia, will join the BRICS members from January 2024.

However, the existing line of strengthening cooperation among South American countries by the left is likely to be disrupted by the victory of the right-wing in the presidential election in Argentina. The cooperation between Latin American countries, including China, and their relationship with the US is becoming more complex.

How will the new Argentine President, Mirei, who will take office in December 2023, resolve Argentina’s economy, which is suffering from high inflation? As well as domestic policy, it is also necessary to pay attention to how Argentina’s foreign policy measures towards the US, China, Brazil and other Latin American countries will change. How will a right-wing victory in Argentina affect Latin America? We believe that Latin America will be at a major turning point.