Argentina’s Pro-US President-Elect Won’t be Able to Withdraw from BRICS: Ex-Envoy
18:54 20.11.2023 (Updated: 19:19 20.11.2023)
Argentina's incoming President Javier Milei has threatened to withdraw from the BRICS accession process and align Buenos Aires' policy with that of the US. However, that's easier said than done.
The election of Javier Milei, the pro-US, far-right Libertarian President-elect of Argentina, has stirred concerns over “disruptions” in Argentina’s foreign policy.
Milei, the candidate for La Libertad Avanza (LLA), or the Freedom Advances Party, has secured nearly 55.98 percent of the vote in the presidential run-off, as compared to 44.04 percent of the vote secured by Union for the Homeland Party’s (Unión por la Patria) Sergio Massa, the economy minister of the outgoing centre-left government headed by Alberto Fernandez.
During the presidential campaign, Milei vowed to dollarize the economy.
On the other hand, the outgoing president has put Argentina on path of a de-dollarization process
of sorts as the country battles with crippling re-payment terms of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, rising poverty levels and a tanking currency.
In June, Buenos Aires announced that it would be making a $2.7 billion debt repayment to the IMF in Chinese yuan to save its US dollar reserves.
On the foreign policy front, the incoming president has threatened to withdraw from the BRICS grouping and align the nation’s policy with that of the US.
"Our geopolitical alignment is with the U.S. and Israel. We are not going to align with Communists,” Milei remarked during the presidential campaign.
In line with his pro-American foreign policy leanings, Milei has also backed Ukraine over its BRICS partner Russia in the ongoing conflict. Further, he has said that he would visit Israel in his first foreign visit.
The incoming President has been compared by political watchers to former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and ex-American President Donald Trump for his foreign policy and domestic positions.
However, foreign policy analysts reckoned that carrying out these pledges, especially those related to re-alignment of the foreign policy, won’t be easy. They might never happen at all during the term of Milei’s presidency, which will formally begin on 10 December.
Lack of Political, Institutional Support
Rengaraj Viswanathan, a former Indian Ambassador to Buenos Aires, explained to Sputnik India that the “radical foreign policy ideas” proposed by Milei, won’t be realized for the simple reason that the incoming president didn’t have the necessary political and institutional backing.
“He doesn’t have a majority in the Congress. The other major parties—both leftist and those on the right—have more MPs than those who support his La Libertad Avanza (LLA), or the Freedom Advances Party,” Viswanathan stated.
The ex-Indian diplomat highlighted that Argentina’s federal presidential system comprises a directly-elected President supported by two legislative chambers, much like the US Presidential system.
“So, Milei doesn’t have the necessary political backing to implement his ideas. More importantly, any significant foreign policy decision would require the approval of members of the Congress, or the legislative chambers,” Viswanathan asserted.
He remarked that the "checks and balances" on an Argentinian president were far greater than those on the US President, making consensus on critical issues paramount.
“A President would require the consent of Argentinian Parliament even to undertake a foreign visit,” he noted.
The former Indian diplomat reckoned that Argentina’s business community won’t allow
the right-wing libertarian President to disrupt economic ties with China.
“China is the biggest trading partner of Argentina and its biggest market. China is a big investor in Argentina, so there is no way that he would be allowed to disrupt Buenos Aires’ relations with Beijing. The Argentinian businesses won’t allow that to happen,” Viswanathan confidently stated.
The veteran diplomat recalled that support for Milei had already “moderated” among Argentina's electorate since the pre-election opinion polls took place.
“That’s why there was a need for the second round of voting,” he claimed.
Moreover, Viswanathan predicted that Milei won’t be able to survive beyond his first four-year term, much like Trump or Bolsonaro.
Russia, which will host the BRICS Summit next year
, has expressed hope that it would be able to maintain its stable ties with Argentina under the new President.
"We noted a number of statements that Mr. Milei made during the election campaign, but we will focus on and judge him mainly by the statements that he makes after the inauguration,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told a briefing in Moscow on Monday.
Expect Brief Disruption in MERCOSUR
Viswanathan, however, cautioned that Milei’s election would cause a “brief disruption” in the MERCOSUR bloc, a South American common market comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay as full-fledged members.
“I don’t expect him to completely disrupt Argentina’s regional policy and he would be of less danger to the broader region that Bolsonaro,” stated the former Indian envoy, noting that the Milei had vowed not to cooperate with Brazil’s left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and even called him an “angry Communist”.
In fact, Milei’s election as the leader of South America’s second-largest economy has been met with caution, if not outright scepticism, in the region.
Columbia has termed Argentinian election results as “sad”.
Lula has extended his congratulations to the new government, without directly referring to Milei. "Brazil will always be available to work together with our Argentine brothers," Lula posted on X on Sunday.