A new Congress is already waiting for Javier Milei to assume the presidency in Argentina. Half of the Chamber of Deputies and a third of the Senate were renewed on Thursday, three days before the new president takes office. President Milei will govern with the third minority in both chambers, but his legislative apparatus is testimony to the far-right's rapid irruption into national politics: in 2021, Milei arrived in Congress as a deputy of his own bloc that today only consists of three people, but after winning the presidency he has managed to expand his strength in the lower house to 38 of the 257 deputies. La Libertad Avanza, his party, had no senators, but will now occupy 7 of the 72 seats in the upper house.
The rumor that is circulating these days in Congress is that the new president is preparing an omnibus law, a large package of reforms in the state, and that legislative activity will enter into extraordinary sessions during the summer to discuss it. Milei will have an uphill battle. He will need not only the support of the entire traditional right and the center, but also of a sector of conservative Peronism and the federal blocs to achieve the necessary majorities (129 out of 257 in deputies and 36 out of 72 in senators); And its force has hardly any political experience: the vast majority of its 45 legislators have never held public office.
Milei has not wanted to agree on a common bloc with other spaces and will have to face each negotiation separately. The Argentine Congress has already come from years of deadlocks between two minorities, and the president-elect is confident that his emergence as a third force will have legitimacy only because of his votes: he refused to choose the president of the lower house among the deputies of his possible allies and has preferred one of his own. The chosen one is Martín Menem, a 48-year-old businessman born in the province of La Rioja, in the northwest of the country. Menem studied law at a private university in Buenos Aires and set up a company that sells protein and dietary supplements for athletes. A legislator in the Congress of his province since 2021 and a candidate for governor – one of the few that Milei supported under his acronym – who came third in the May elections, he is the nephew of former President Carlos Saúl Menem (1989-1999), father of Argentine neoliberalism.
Menem will be in charge of leading the negotiations with the other legislative blocs and leading a fledgling force. In the ranks of La Libertad Avanza in the lower house there are some names unknown to politics, but who have exploded in the media with a force similar to that of their political leader: there is Milei's influencer and personal makeup artist, Lilia Lemoine, who in October said that she would seek to promote a project to "renounce paternity" if a condom is "punctured"; Alberto Benegas Lynch, heir to two generations of liberal economists linked to the dictatorships of the 50s and 70s, and whose agenda calls it a priority to repeal the free abortion law; journalist Marcela Pagano, who joined Milei's ranks in the middle of the year after denouncing being fired from the television station where she worked for criticizing the then Peronist candidate and Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa; or Ricardo Bussi, a legislator for a decade in Tucumán and son of the military governor in charge of that province during the dictatorship, Antonio Bussi, convicted of crimes against humanity in 2008.
Bussi will be one of Milei's most experienced politicians in Congress. And it will have few. Among the new deputies who entered Congress today for La Libertad Avanza are the agronomist Beltrán Benedit, who directed the Rural Society in his province, Entre Ríos; evangelical pastor Nadia Márquez, from Neuquén, a former councilwoman in her province; the 30-year-old entrepreneur, Lourdes Arrieta, who arrives in Congress as a cosmetics saleswoman and some experience in local politics in her city, Guaymallén, in the province of Mendoza, a textile businessman from the province of Formosa, Gerardo González, denounced by a woman in September for labor and sexual harassment; or Rocío Bonacci, a 27-year-old manicurist and daughter of José Bonacci, a former councilman in the province of Santa Fe known for 20 years for the accusations that he was accused of renting his electoral stamp to incipient candidates without their own structure.
In addition to Bussi, the only Mileista deputies with parliamentary experience come from other parties: they are Óscar Zago, a legislator from former President Mauricio Macri's party in the capital's legislature between 2005 and 2013, and Carolina Píparo, also originally from Macrismo, who left that space in 2021 to join Milei. Píparo is the only far-right deputy who already had a seat in Congress.
In the Senate, there will be seven Libertarians. Highlights include lawyer Juan Carlos Pagotto, who defended military personnel in trials for crimes against humanity and will represent the province of La Rioja in Congress; the evangelical pastor, Vilma Bedia, representative of the province of Jujuy; and Bartolomé Abdalá, who until 2021 was the leader of Macrismo in the province of San Luis.
All of them have been sworn in this Thursday for the next four years and will be in charge of landing a new era in Argentina. Milei, who will govern Argentina from Sunday, has promised austerity and sharp cuts in public spending. "It's the first time that someone wins by saying that they are going to make an adjustment," celebrates the president, who in recent weeks has raised the phrase "There is no money" as a slogan. The president of Congress repeated this in his first speech.
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