Far-right presidential candidate Javier Milei (La Libertad Avanza, LLA) has activated a social media and media campaign to create the impression of possible electoral fraud leading up to the November 19 run-off. This campaign echoes what was done by Roger Stone, one of the masterminds behind the storming of the United States Capitol following Donald Trump’s electoral defeat in 2020.
Milei said in an interview with Peruvian journalist Jaime Bayly on Tuesday that the October 22 general elections featured “irregularities of such magnitude that cast doubt on the result.” He raised doubts regarding the vote-counting process, which involves not only electoral authorities but all political parties.
When asked if the elections were “clean,” Milei responded, “No, it’s [all] heavily influenced by political power; the one who counts the votes controls everything.” Asked how he could accept the result, the LLA presidential candidate added, “You can’t accept it, but the question is what other alternatives you have.”
However, Milei’s statements and a new alliance with former president Mauricio Macri have led to tensions within LLA, with many lawmakers breaking away from the coalition. LLA national deputy-elect Marcela Pagano distanced herself from the idea of promoting the notion of fraud pushed by Milei in an interview on Tuesday.
“I believe that to talk about something like this, especially in my case as a deputy-elect, I need to have evidence because if it’s true, I have to report it,” said LLA national deputy-elect Marcela Pagano in an interview on Tuesday, in which she distanced herself from the idea of promoting the fraud narrative being pushed by Milei. “To be honest, I don’t have sufficient evidence beyond things I’ve seen at some polling stations I’ve seen myself to speak of widespread fraud.”
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The deliberate promotion of fraud through social media and the traditional media to contest a potential victory by Sergio Massa in the run-off is not accidental and appears to involve Roger Stone’s tactics. Stone himself shares content from LLA on his social media channels and has already expressed his support for Milei.
“Milei has embraced his natural eccentricities to create an authenticity that none of his rivals can match,” Stone wrote in a November 1 substack titled Javier Milei’s Example Should Be Followed by Conservatives. “Although their respective ideologies certainly differ, Milei is perhaps the most Trump-like leader currently on the rise on the world stage.”
Different social media accounts have been activated to sow doubt about Argentina’s electoral process and institutions related to the election (like the National Electoral Chamber, CNE). There have also been statements from libertarian political leaders and Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) members who have agreed with Milei ahead of the run-off.
The campaign intensified in late October, when Stone began publishing content related to Milei, with an increase in fake news and the creation of groups calling to mobilize against fraud. New accounts that did not belong to the usual LLA ecosystem popped up, sometimes bolstered by Milei himself reposting their content on his social media.
This behavior is similar to what occurred following Trump’s defeat in the United States when the election result was questioned and many non-organic followers began promoting fraud and doubting the process that had confirmed Biden’s presidency. That campaign culminated on January 6, 2021, with the storming of the Capitol in an attempt to dispute the election results. This episode was not organic but rather a convergence of groups united by a deep distrust of the election outcome and a belief in fraud.
Stone has been a Republican operative since the Watergate scandal unfolded in 1972. He is a political consultant and analyst known for promoting scandals that have led to legal proceedings in the United States. In the Netflix documentary “Get Me Roger Stone,” Stone presents himself as a “provocateur” and boasts of being the first to use negative advertising campaigns in political campaigns. His maxims include “it’s better to be infamous than unknown” and “to win, you have to do whatever it takes.”
In Javier Milei’s Example Should Be Followed by Conservatives Stone contended that Argentina is experiencing an unprecedented crisis that will soon reach the US and will provide the opportunity for political right-wing movements in all countries to “put an end to modern globalism.”
“It will only be achieved if conservative leaders follow in the footsteps of Trump or Milei with bold rhetoric demonizing the interests at fault for national despair,” the piece concluded.
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Originally published in Ámbito