President Alberto Fernandez calls opposition politician Javier Milei "a threat to democracy", during an interview, invoking Adolf Hitler's rise in Germany and warning against totalitarianism.

"Hitler did not come [to power] through a coup, he was voted for by the Germans," says Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez. (Reuters)

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez has called the opposition libertarian politician Javier Milei "a threat to democracy", warning the election of Milei, admirer of ex-US president Donald Trump, could unleash mayhem in the South American country. 

In an interview with Argentinian radio show Modo Fontevecchia in which he also discussed his recent meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington, Fernandez touched upon how "societies are [being] polarised around the world."

"In my opinion it has to do with the fact that the [Covid] pandemic has left many people hurt — hurt and angry with politics, so everything that is shown to be anti-system accumulates," he said.

Asked if Milei, a libertarian politician with a highly conservative political outlook and an extremely liberal economic agenda, enriches or threatens democracy, the president said, "Javier Milei is a threat to democracy, [Adolf] Hitler was voted in. Totalitarians use democracy to gain power and there are many examples in the history of mankind."

Milei, an ebullient Argentine economist with wild hair and an avid fan base, was once known for his theatrical and acerbic televised takedowns of the country's political elite. Now he has a shot of taking them down at the ballot box.

The admirer of former US president Donald Trump, who was elected to the lower house last year, has surged in polls ahead of Argentina's 2023 presidential election with attacks on the political mainstream and pledges for total economic freedom.

"Hitler did not come [to power] through a coup, he was voted for by the Germans. What we have to do is warn people that, however discouraged they may be, these are not healthy paths for the country," said Fernandez.

'Return to the model of freedom'

Milei immediately hit back on Twitter, branding Fernandez's comments "ignorant" and accusing him of trivialising the Holocaust, which he said "offends the memory of millions of people".

"We Argentines are fed up with politicians because for a hundred years they promoted a model that impoverishes citizens and enriches you. They destroyed one of the richest countries in the world with nefarious ideas to line their pockets," said Milei.

"The only threat to Argentine democracy is to continue with this model that guarantees that we are going to become the largest slum in the world. The only solution is to return to the model of freedom thought by Alberdi that made us the richest country in the world," he added.

Milei, a trained economist has gained notoriety in Argentina in recent years, appearing on news-media platforms where he has become known for his anti-establishment political discourse, denouncing the country's political establishment, the fight against communism, rejecting abortion alongside his pro-gun stance.

Amid a spiralling economy and the loss of purchasing power in Argentina, Milei has pledged wholesale economic reforms — from slashing taxes, cutting public spending, dollarising the economy, to doing away with the central bank.

During the September 2021 primarily legislative elections in Argentina, which proved to be a hard-hitting defeat for the ruling coalition Frente de Todos, Milei established his political force with his party garnering the third highest vote in the city of Buenos Aires.

Due to his dress-sense and outspoken nature he has drawn some comparisons with ex Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro and embattled ex-US leader Trump.

Some in Argentina suggest he may provide a third way to Argentina's bipartisanship.

Source: TRT World