Argentine Congress is getting weirder — and more extreme

La Libertad Avanza will have nearly 40 representatives in the Chamber of Deputies. Several hold positions as radical as those of the coalition’s leader

If La Libertad Avanza (LLA) is abandoning the market-based exchange of human organs as part of its new electoral pact with key figures in Juntos por el Cambio (JxC), Diana Mondino must have missed the memo.

On Tuesday, less than a week after the coalition’s standard bearer and presidential candidate Javier Milei shared an awkward embrace with JxC’s Patricia Bullrich, the new deputy-elect and prospective foreign minister said that she thought that an organ market was a “fantastic” idea that had been “twisted” by the media.

“Everybody thinks it means you will have a kidney taken out in the middle of the street and that you will be cut to pieces,” she told La Red radio. Mondino offered that these “transactions” could be a way of “saving lives.”

The economist and former Standard & Poor executive has also suggested that low-income neighborhoods should pay for their own sewage systems rather than rely on public works built with federal taxes. (In an ironic twist, Milei recently shared a Matrix-themed meme on Instagram framing the run-off election as a choice between “having dignity” and “shitting in a bucket.”)

Whether the far-right firebrand enters the Casa Rosada or not, Argentina’s federal government has already been transformed. LLA will have 38 seats in the lower house and six in the Senate this December, up from two and zero, respectively. While the future of the country’s political coalitions remains in flux, one thing is certain: Congress is getting stranger — and more extreme.

Argentina’s new far-right bloc

“Argentina is experiencing the same electoral riot that we’ve seen in other Western countries,” Pablo Stefanoni, author of ¿La rebeldia se volvió de derecha? (Has Rebellion Become a Thing of the Right?), told the Herald. “The far right has captured a segment of the public, and it’s revolting against the political establishment.”

This revolt takes many forms. For LLA deputy-elect Alberto Tiburcio “Bertie” Benegas Lynch, it involves privatizing the ocean itself.

Lynch has yet to provide specifics as to what this plan would entail, although he is adamant that property rights constitute the most effective form of conservationism. “Why are whales or elephants on the verge of extinction? Because there’s no fence [to protect them],” he argued in October. “Why aren’t chickens and cows going extinct? Because they have an owner [who will].”

In addition to radically reimagining the sea as a free-market enterprise, Lynch denies that climate change is man-made and has said that Integral Sex Education (ESI, by its Spanish acronyms) should be confined to private institutions. Meanwhile, “Bertie’s” father, the neoliberal economist and Milei advisor Alberto Benegas Lynch, has called for Argentina to sever ties with the Vatican.

“More important than the congressional bench itself is the fact that the far right has a lot of voters, whether it wins this election or not,” said Pablo Semán, a sociologist and professor at the National University of San Martin in Buenos Aires.

Precisely how powerful this incipient bloc will be hinges on the results of the November 19 run-off. Semán contends that if Union por la Patria’s (UxP’s) Sergio Massa wins, he’ll be able to check its deputies and even steer them away from their most polarizing positions. Milei himself has struggled to keep these officials in line since forming an alliance with former president Mauricio Macri (JxC). But should the self-described “anarcho-capitalist” prevail, all bets are off.

“If Milei wins, with Macri’s backing, he’d have a lot of support,” he continued. “Together, they can stretch the limits of Argentine politics to the right.”

An unwieldy coalition

Members of the LLA coalition often make strange bedfellows. Whereas Lynch is the scion of an arch-conservative political dynasty — one that Milei has lauded for championing economic liberalism in Argentina — deputy-elect Lilia Lemoine is an internet personality and cosplayer, perhaps best known for her social media posts.

In 2022, Lemoine came under fire for calling Ofelia Fernández, then 22, an “Australian tank of medialunas” in a dig at the Peronist legislator’s appearance. More recently, she announced that her first act as a member of the Chamber of Deputies would be to introduce legislation that exempts fathers from having to pay child support if they don’t want to be parents, declaring, “If a woman has the privilege of being able to kill her children and renounce motherhood, then why are men forced by law to support a child?”

Lemoine’s thinly veiled attack on legal abortion came mere days ahead of the general election.

In the weeks since, LLA has deployed more moderate voices, like former congressman and Inter-American Development Bank representative Guillermo Francos, to deliver its message to voters. But as Mondino’s recent comments make clear, moderation is often a relative term within the coalition.

“Figures like Lemoine are a product of the online right, with all of its modes of communication,” said Stefanoni. “She’s not a person of substance, but by being provocative, she’s helped spread libertarian ideas to different sectors, particularly Argentina’s youth.”

“Lynch, on the other hand, is more versed in political theory, but he’s always been a marginal figure,” he continued. “He’s a member of liberal economic foundations that have had no real effect on Argentine politics.”

Joining them in the Chamber of Deputies will be Carolina Píparo, who finished third in the Buenos Aires gubernatorial race. Píparo, whose tough-on-crime politics were shaped by a 2010 assault that resulted in a miscarriage when she was eight months pregnant, is a former member of the conservative PRO party. She has served in Congress since 2017, jumping to the libertarian alliance Avanza Libertad in 2021.

Píparo now caucuses with the more radical LLA — a coalition that includes current deputy and prospective vice president Victoria Villarruel. An open apologist for Argentina’s last dictatorship (1976-1983), Villarruel held a memorial at the Buenos Aires City legislature last month to commemorate the “victims” of left-wing guerrilla groups who opposed the country’s armed forces.

“Like Donald Trump in the United States, figures who were previously on the fringes of Argentine society have become part of the mainstream,” added Stefanoni. “The Milei movement is something distinct in its style and rhetoric. If he wins, we’ll see if he forms a new kind of government or a more dilapidated version of the Macri administration.”


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