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Yet another high-profile politician is backing Bitcoin.
In an unexpected victory, presidential candidate Javier Milei, known for his pro-Bitcoin and libertarian economics, earned the top spot in Argentina's primary yesterday.
Milei and his coalition, La Libertad Avanza ("Liberty Advances"), raked in over 30% of the votes, beating second-place contender, the center-right coalition, Juntos Por El Cambio ("Together For Change)", by slightly less than a 2% margin.
Up until Sunday’s shocking results, La Libertad Avanza was considered a reasonably small party that offered minor representation in Congress–despite its successful first foray.
Founded in 2021, during its first legislative elections (which took place the same year) the coalition surprisingly received 17% of the votes In Buenos Aires, becoming the third most-voted coalition in the district.
Those elections earned the coalition two congressional seats, which were occupied by none other than Javier Milei and his now-running mate Victoria Villarruel.
The candidate—which critics have placed on the far right of the political spectrum—has been lauded by so-called protest voters, and among them cryptocurrency advocates.
Adam Dubove is an Argentine Bitcoin enthusiast who voted for the first time in eight years, “because of Milei.” Dubove is a political theorist, who has been on myriad talk shows over the years discussing the country’s political and economic situation.
He told Decrypt that it’s not necessarily because of Bitcoin, but rather “a different mindset,” and someone who will “stir up the hen.”
The self-proclaimed libertarian economist has called Bitcoin (and some of its competition, like Ethereum) a “return of money to its original creator: the private sector.”
He also touted Bitcoin’s finite supply and considers cryptocurrency a safer alternative to transacting in gold or silver.
Not all is rosy in Milei’s connection to cryptocurrency, however.
Milei, Ponzi schemes and the central bank
In a 2022 interview, Milei denied any wrongdoing by the company, which offered high monthly interest rates--to the tune of 8%. According to him, "Their business model is the same as that of a bank," with the only difference being that "since their interest rate isn't regulated by the central bank, they can pay more."
According to Manuel Ferrari, a board member of the NGO Bitcoin Argentina, this connection is a concern.
“Promoting projects like Coinx makes me not trust him, yet,” he told Decrypt.
Ferrari, a co-founder of Money on Chain, a BTC-backed stablecoin protocol, explained that he doesn’t think Milei is pro-Bitcoin–pointing to a 2019 video of the candidate declaring he “isn’t a specialist in cryptocurrency.”
That said, Ferrari told Decrypt that he does think Milei is the “least likely” of presidential candidates to get things wrong about Bitcoin–and that introducing the freedom to choose currencies “does interest him.”
What he’s mainly known for is his unabated bashing of the country’s central bank.
Last year he claimed he would “blow it up,” which he has called a scam for cheating “good people” through inflationary tax.
Argentina currently suffers from rampant inflation, clocking in at 135% this year.
Although the country’s Central Bank made anti-crypto moves through a recent ban on digital wallets, not much has changed in the burgeoning crypto scene, which according to Chainalysis, ranks Argentina’s crypto adoption at 13th worldwide.
While some in the crypto space are hopeful Milei might push for an El Salvador-style Bitcoin standard, or other similar pro-crypto measures, the eccentric presidential hopeful might not be so willing.
Last month, for example, he announced his intentions to “dollarize” the Argentine economy.