Amid Argentina's Protests, Are Javier Milei's Days Numbered?

By Jan D. Walter

"I think Milei's job security is pretty good but always in question for a non-Peronist president," says AS/COA's Brian Winter to Deutsche Welle.

The ultra-libertarian president has proposed harsh austerity measures to tame Argentina's budget and boost its economy. But with hundreds of thousands protesting proposed education cuts, has he gone a step too far?

The symbol of his policies is a chainsaw: President Javier Milei wants to slash the Argentine state and its expenditures down to a minimum. This was the campaign promise that carried him to election victory in November 2023, and it's now the basis for how he's running the government.

Following 15 years of deficit-based fiscal policy and three sovereign debt defaults since 2001, the majority of voters backed his proposed drastic program. But that support now appears to be crumbling. On April 23, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets throughout the country to protest his radical austerity measures.

According to police, the capital city of Buenos Aires alone saw some 100,000 demonstrators turn out; the University of Buenos Aires put the number at more than 500,000.

Gatherings also took place in many other university cities across Argentina, including Tucuman, Cordoba, Corrientes and Ushuaia. People even turned out in front of the Argentine consulate in Barcelona, Spain, to show solidarity with the demonstrators on the other side of the Atlantic. Various media described the protests as the largest in 20 years. [...]

Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of the Americas-focused political magazine Americas Quarterly, has come to a similar conclusion, though he warned that the unconventional politician isn't entirely in the clear.

"I think Milei's job security is pretty good but always in question for a non-Peronist president, especially one making severe budget cuts. The protests [on April 23] were a sign that Argentine society is conflicted about what to cut, and whom to support," he said.

For Llanos, the drastic budget cuts in the education sector are a big — and avoidable — political mistake that could mark a turning point. "Milei is a smart person. He might want to correct this mistake in progress."

Read the full article.