Javier Milei in Berlin: Four reasons why Scholz should meet him

Javier Milei in Berlin: Four reasons why Scholz should meet him
Javier Milei in Berlin: Four reasons why Scholz should meet him

People in Germany have protested against Javier Milei’s state visit. The calls to disinvite Argentina’s controversial president are not helpful.

Categorizing Argentina’s President Javier Milei is not easy. He is certainly a right-wing populist, but not a Christian nationalist like Jair Bolsonaro. He is also a loudmouth, but not a xenophobic agitator like Donald Trump. In any case, he rants fervently against climate activists, feminists, journalists – against basically everything that he considers to be left-wing and equates with Marxism.

Milei calls himself a libertarian, an anarcho-capitalist who wants to liberalize the economy of his crisis-ridden country and “destroy the state from within.” Unlike Trump, he is not a protectionist. Unlike Bolsonaro, he is not a militarist. He is – that much seems certain – a specimen that has never been seen before in the spectrum of the populist right.

The protests against Milei in Hamburg and Berlin are understandable – and yet it is right that Olaf Scholz welcomes the man with the wild mane and worn leather jacket to the Chancellery.

Javier Milei: Give the madman another chance

Firstly, Milei is the democratically elected representative of an important country and represents the hope of millions of desperate Argentines after all his predecessors failed to fight inflation. Milei is now trying a radical market approach that is demanding many victims, as can be seen clearly in the streets and soup kitchens of Buenos Aires. The poverty rate has risen to over 50 percent. But he has initially stabilized inflation, the main problem for the country for decades, especially for the poorest of the poor.

After six months in office, most Argentinians, including political scientists and economists, are of the opinion: give the madman, “El Loco”, a chance – for now. That is to be respected, including by Scholz – despite all the concerns about the social devastation.

An important partner for the West and Germany

Secondly, Argentina needs to be more closely integrated into the Western world after the left-wing populist Peronists pursued a cozy approach with Putin’s Russia and China’s Xi Jinping, reminiscent of the Cold War era. The fact that Milei just gave Ukraine’s President Zelenskyj a warm hug is not the worst sign on a continent where most presidents show little solidarity with Ukraine. Here, Scholz should point out that a pro-Western course not only means more trade, but also more exchange, more agreements, more climate protection, more women’s rights – things that Milei has so far rejected.

Thirdly, Argentina is too important economically for Germany to leave the resource-rich country to other economic powers, especially China, to take over. It has large reserves of lithium and green hydrogen, natural gas and copper, and if Milei now opens his country to investors, Germany is not the worst partner to act responsibly and in an environmentally friendly manner. Scholz will also point this out and counter the climate denier with it.

Fourthly, Milei may be a loudmouth, but he is inexperienced and uninterested in foreign policy, as can be heard from his own cabinet. He uses his appearances in Europe primarily for domestic political purposes and for his own marketing. Scholz should therefore use the visit to integrate the still malleable outsider more closely into the Western community of values ​​- away from right-wing demagogues and anti-globalists. He should also show that – as in German history – fighting inflation and fighting poverty are no more mutually exclusive than entrepreneurial freedom and social security.

Olaf Scholz should push Javier Milei towards the centre

In practice, Milei is already more flexible than in his rhetoric. He demonstrated this recently during the negotiations on the major reform package “Ley Bases”, when he had no choice but to make numerous compromises.

The meeting is certainly no picnic for someone like Scholz, who is seen by Milei as part of the “Casta”, the caste, as a typical representative of the political elite. Milei prefers “real guys” and lone fighters like Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, who don’t let anyone tell them what to do and would prefer to see the entire world deregulated, at least when it benefits them.

Perhaps Scholz will find common ground with the former goalkeeper on the subject of Euro 2024 or the Beatles (both are fans). Certainly more so than on the subject of animal cloning (which Milei wanted to legalize) and organ trafficking (which he wanted to liberalize).

At the same time, these are examples of how “El Loco” moves away from his fantasies when he has to face reality and recognize the hopelessness of his solo efforts.

Scholz, a master of perseverance and stoic endurance, should push Milei a little further towards the center and realpolitik.

To do this he has to talk to him.

Source: Stern

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