Argentinian President-Elect Milei is moving to privatize energy… and everything else.

by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

Argentines weary of annual inflation soaring above 140% and a poverty rate that reached 40% have elected right-wing libertarian economist Javier Milei. On Sunday, November 19, 2023, Milei defeated Economy Minister Sergio Massa by a wide margin, 55.7% to 44.3%, winning all but three of the nation’s 24 provinces. He had campaigned on the promise to privatise state-owned enterprises, slash government spending, dollarise the economy, eliminate the Central Bank, and close key ministries, among them health and education.

Milei is making the privatisation of the Argentine state-run oil company, YPF, a top priority.  “The first thing to do is to restructure it so that YPF can be “sold in a very favourable way for the Argentinians.” He added, “Everything that can be in the hands of the private sector will be in its hands.” Milei said he would also privatise Public TV, National Radio and the National News Agency (Telám). New York-traded shares in Argentine YPF soared more than 40% following the announcement.

javier milei stares creepily into the camera

Commentators have pointed out such a radical program of privatisation will require constitutional reforms and, in some cases, new laws from a Congress where Milei does not yet have a majority.

Hugo “Cachorro” Godoy, Secretary General of CTA-Autónoma, offered a first analysis of the factors behind the results.  “We voted against this government [of Alberto Fernández], which did not fulfil any of the objectives and commitments made, and which were initially the antithesis of Macri’s policies and the IMF’s impositions. We ended four years of government being worse off than when it began, particularly in the economic and social spheres. Milei arrives on the back of the fragmentation of the popular camp [working class base] and the fragmentation of labour relations, where precariousness has produced economic and social damage, including 43% poverty [and] 10% hunger.  Regarding [Milei’s] … denial of the state as an instrument of equity and balance in a society, it is indispensable to build an alternative program to reconstitute the popular sectors and working-class base.”

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