EspañolAround the world and especially in Argentina, libertarians are virtually political orphans. No politician in this South American nation would dare to run on a liberal platform.
Even Mauricio Macri, the presidential front-runner who will square off against the ruling-party candidate on November 22, is far from including liberal rhetoric in his speeches.
So why are Argentinean libertarians overwhelmingly supporting him, as I witnessed firsthand recently?
One common argument among the wider public is that any candidate other than Daniel Scioli, President Cristina Kirchner’s appointed successor, will make Argentina better off.
But I decided to check whether this also rang true for Argentinean libertarians, so I attended a libertarian event and asked whether they would vote for Macri or not and why.
On Monday, November 2, a network of liberal policy institutes and NGOs from all over Argentina organized the first “National Congress: The Liberal Agenda” in Buenos Aires.
They gathered to discuss whether Latin American liberalism was winning or losing the culture war, and if free-market economies were on the rise across the world. Key speakers included former Minister of the Economy Ricardo López Murphy, journalist Pablo Rossi, economist Javier Milei, and Chilean writer Mauricio Rojas.
The Only Choice
For businessman Gustavo Lazzari, Macri is the best and only choice. The opposition coalition Let’s Change would pave the way for a promising future of prosperity, he argues.
“When an obstacle falls down, I don’t wonder who tore it down. The priority is to beat the Kirchneristas. When we have done that, then we can focus on the details. I would have voted for Nicolás del Caño [from the Socialist Workers’ Party] if he had reached the final round.”
He described Kirchner’s political supporters as a movement “of hate.”
Gonzalo Blousson, former Libertarian Party candidate for Congress and now bitcoin entrepreneur, will vote for Macri, but not because he believes the opposition leader endorses liberal principles or that Macri’s administration will enact liberal policies. Instead, “the main thing right now is to restore the Republic,” he says with a sense of urgency.
Voting for Macri is just a first step, Blousson explains, so that “Argentineans can start talking about the ideas and benefits of a free society in the near future.”
He thinks the best way to face Kirchner’s propaganda machine is with humor and irony.
On the other hand, Alan Schamber, who is actively campaigning for Macri, believes — as Edmund Burke stated centuries ago — that societal changes should be gradual.
Argentineans are scared and seeking a paternalist state, he says. “They are not looking for freedom right now.” That is why, he explains, transformation should come in the form of education and by consolidating equality before the law.
Federico Lazzari from Buenos Aires admits that he did not vote for Macri on October 25, but this time he will: “I think it is important to destroy whatever populism is left in the country. We need a change, and Macri has a big challenge ahead.”
No one I talked to said he would vote against Macri. The truth is that Argentineans have never had a local Ron Paul and are still far from fully grasping the benefits of a free society.
Most people still confuse the ideas of limited government and free enterprise — they call it neoliberalism — with mercantilism and cronyism.
If we had to place Macri somewhere on the Nolan Chart — a simple political quiz — he would land on the border between “centrist” and “socialist.”
The speakers also widely agreed that despite his faults, electing Macri is the first step toward reinstating the rule of law and progress in Argentina. And so do I.