Untamed hair, unpolished language which resulted in a slew of insults addressed to the Pope, the winner of the Argentine presidential election, Javier Milei, stands out.
If this admirer of Donald Trump calls himself pro-Israeli and displays his opposition to abortion, it seems that the evangelicals of this country undermined by inflation have been especially sensitive to his promises of prosperity.
With less than two years of political experience, Milei is an economist whom Argentines discovered in 2014 as an economic columnist on television sets.
From then on, his notoriety continued to grow, notably because of his outspokenness and the “p…n”s that punctuated his speeches. Leather jacket testifying to his refusal to be polite, he stands out in Argentinian political circles. His campaign presented catastrophic videos of nuclear explosions or building collapses.
Milei's qualification for the second round of the presidential election on October 22 did not really surprise, the anti-system candidate had come first in the presidential primary two months earlier, winning more votes than those combined for the candidates of the two traditional parties.
Coming second in the first round, with 29,99% of the votes against 36,78% for his rival Sergio Massa, the Minister of the Economy, he benefited for the second round from the support of the unsuccessful candidate Patricia Bullrich. His victory is very large with 55,69% of the votes.
Presented as a "Trump of the Pampas", despite the great differences in style and program between him and the former American president who rejoiced at his victory, the 'anti-caste' elected official describes himself as a lion and does not hesitate to go on stage with a chainsaw in order to visually demonstrate his desire to reduce state spending.
The one who will take office on December 10 is a libertarian supporter of the liberal economy who describes himself as anarcho-capitalist and who intends to dollarize the Argentine economy.
Evangelical support strongly motivated by economic promises
In this country with a corruption perception index of 62 out of 100, which is not emerging from the financial slump, with inflation at 143%, evangelicals seem to have been as sensitive as the others to the economic program of the libertarian candidate.
Evangelical churches are growing rapidly in the country, there were 5 four years ago in the capital alone of three million inhabitants, Buenos Aires.
They are very involved in social activities and the government asked them to distribute food in the poorest districts of Buenos Aires in 2018.
The economic situation and the strong social commitment of the churches may explain why evangelicals do not seem to have supported Milei above all for his promise to organize a referendum on abortion, even if the subject may have mattered.
Argentina decriminalized abortion in 2020 and the president-elect wants to mobilize voters to ban it again. At the time, Catholics and evangelicals demonstrated together against the change in the law.
In an interview with journalist Alejandro Fantino last August, Milei asked :
"I am against [the right to abortion] because it goes against the right to life. How is it possible that killing another human being is an acquired right?"
Alicia Ramos, 29 years old and evangelical, is one of the voters who chose the libertarian candidate for his economic positions. She supported him "when he started talking about dollarization and inflation and, above all, that the country was going to become a liberal country."
The young woman also appreciates the moral values of Milei who opposes laws on gender issues and abortion and she affirmed between the two rounds that many people in her church voted for him because of his rejection of abortion.
However, Christianity Today did not find that abortion was an important issue in the evangelical vote in favor of Milej. None of the other voters the magazine interviewed mentioned abortion.
It seems that, like the rest of their compatriots, evangelicals have mainly focused on electing the candidate who, according to them, is best able to restore the economy, reduce corruption and attack the ruling elite.
If the evangelical faithful seem to have been as seduced as the others by Milei's speech, the main organizations of this branch of Protestantism strongly criticized his proposals.
Thus, the Argentine Federation of Evangelical Churches, one of the largest evangelical organizations in the country, published a letter on November 9 explicitly rejecting Milei's electoral program, and called on the faithful affiliated with him to inform themselves carefully before vote.
In question, the project to freely carry firearms and the creation of a market for human organs.
The letter states:
“As churches, we are called by our Lord […] to make an inevitable commitment to a society that guarantees social justice, the defense of human rights and the preservation of God's creation. "
A man identifying as a Catholic hostile to the Pope and in the process of converting to Judaism
The least we can say is that there is no great love between Pope Francis and his compatriot Milei and that the two exchanged a few sweet words.
Milei calls the pope a "communist, a left-wing son of a bitch who preaches all over the world", an imbecile and describes him as a "representative of evil in the house of God".
For his part, speaking about Milei, the Pope criticized the libertarian to a progressive journalist and compared him to Hitler, "a new politician, who spoke magnificently, who seduced the people."
In his book "A Time for Change", the pope had already compared support for Trump to the rise of Nazism in 2020. While Milei calls himself Catholic, he has repeatedly stated that he studies Judaism and is accompanied by a rabbi.
The Chainsaw Man does not rule out converting to the Jewish religion, but says that observing Shabbat could be an obstacle to his conversion when he is supposed to be present for his people every day of the week.
The future president also declares himself admiring the way in which Israelis “combine the spiritual world and the real world”. He also hears in turn recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the Argentine embassy there.
Milei will not, however, be able to rely on a sufficient number of parliamentarians, his party having only 38 deputies.
Bullrich's support and possible participation in his government could allow him to count on the 51 deputies of the Republican Proposal.