Defeat was written all over the faces of Sergio Massa and his supporters, several of whom were in tears.
On Sunday night, the Union por la Patria candidate delivered a somber address to a dejected crowd at C Complejo Art Media, the site of his campaign bunker in Chacarita. With more than 98% of the ballots counted, Javier Milei (La Libertad Avanza, LLA) had secured 55.8% of the vote to Massa’s 44.2%, making him the next president-elect of Argentina.
“These were not the results we were hoping for,” Massa said.
The economy minister affirmed that Argentina has a democratic system that is “strong, solid, and transparent” and that it will always respect the results of an election.
“The most important thing we can impart to Argentines tonight is the message that coexistence, dialogue, and respect for peace, in the face of so much violence, is the best path that we can take,” he added.
During his speech, Massa acknowledged that he had called Milei to congratulate him on his victory. He also announced that he would be retiring from politics.
“Today I finished a stage of my life,” he said. “Surely, life has other responsibilities in store for me.”
Massa thanked his staffers, union leaders, and members of the micromilitancia (local activists) who went door to door in support of his campaign. It had been an uphill battle from the start; inflation currently stands at just over 143%, while poverty surpassed 40% in the first half of 2023, according to the National Institute for Statistics and Censuses (INDEC, by its Spanish acronym).
“There were two paths,” he said. “We chose a path that puts national security in the hands of the state. We chose to defend public education and public healthcare as central values. We chose to defend workers’ rights because we felt it was the best way of constructing prosperity, social mobility, and, above all else, progress for our nation.”
“The [nation] chose another path,” Massa continued. “And beginning tomorrow, the responsibility and work of guaranteeing that Argentina functions socially, politically, and economically are the president-elect’s.”
Milei, a self-styled “anarcho-capitalist,” has campaigned on slashing state expenditures, eliminating whole departments of the government, and replacing public education with a voucher system, among other draconian proposals.