Javier Milei, the front-runner in Argentina’s presidential election, has to be one of the most eccentric politicians in the world, says Ana Lankes in 1843 magazine. The 52-year-old libertarian economist has boasted on television about being a “sex guru” whom former girlfriends call “the naughty cow”. He raffles off his congressional salary every month to fans on social media, and recently started wielding a chainsaw to “demonstrate how he plans to tear up the status quo”. He sometimes dresses up in head-to-toe spandex as his alter ego General Ancap, the leader of “Liberland”, where nobody pays taxes. And he was so heartbroken after the death of his beloved English mastiff Conan – named after the 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian – that he had the dog cloned into five puppies. He calls them his “four-legged children”.
Milei’s views are as extreme as his public persona. He has dismissed the Pope, who is Argentinian, as an “ignoramus” and a “leftist son of a bitch”. He has suggested that people should be able to buy and sell organs legally, and when asked whether he thought parents should be able to sell their children, responded: “It depends.” But whatever he’s doing, it’s working. His rock-inspired campaign events, typically “more theatrical than political”, are a big hit with his young, male-dominated base. And he was a surprise winner in the presidential primaries in August, taking 30% of the vote. If he triumphs in the election, the first round of which is today, “Argentina had better brace itself”.