December 8, 2023

Argentina’s presidential election will see a runoff on Nov. 19, between the center-left economy minister, Sergio Massa, and anti-establishment newcomer Javier Milei.

Milei, a self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist, has been buoyed by voters aged 16 to 35, who bought into his leather jacket and chainsaw-wielding campaign. The presidential candidate likes to rail against the South American nation’s crisis-ridden economy, whose triple-digit inflation has pushed the share of the population living in poverty above 40%.

While opponent Massa takes heat for his economic management, Milei’s positions against abortion and women’s rights, along with his rejection of equal pay, have drawn the ire of Taylor Swift superfans known as Swifties.

Man with a chainsaw in a crowd of supporters

Argentina’s far-right presidential candidate, Javier Milei, fires up voters with a chainsaw.
Photo: CRISTINA SILLE (Reuters)

“Candidate Milei and his Freedom Advances party represent a danger to democracy and the human rights of all Argentines, but mainly for women and diversity. As Swifties, after Miss Americana, we can NOT vote for that. Milei=Trump,” Swifties Por la Patria posted on X. Their account name is a play on that of Massa’s coalition party, Unión por la Patria—“united for the homeland.”

In the 2020 Netflix documentary Miss Americana, saying she “needs to be on the right side of history,” Swift calls out Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn, calling her “Trump in a wig.” Blackburn voted against women’s rights, including a law protecting women from violence, as well as against same-sex marriage.

According to the New York Times, the group’s two-page statement went viral and has been viewed a million and a half times. Swifties Por la Patria’s X account has since been suspended without explanation and re-created.

But it’s not just Swifties who are joining forces against the right wing. Superfans of South Korean boy band BTS, known as the BTS ARMY, took it in their hands to resurface controversial posts by Milei’s running mate, Victoria Villarruel. In 2020, Villarruel said the band’s name sounded like “a sexually transmitted disease.”

“We repudiate the statements of hatred and xenophobia towards the image of BTS uttered by candidate Victoria Villarruel,” BTStream Argentina, the country’s largest BTS fan club, said in a post on X. But the club urged the BTS ARMY not to engage with the politician’s provocations.

Massa’s allies were quick to react. Juan Grabois, who lost to Massa in the August presidential primary, took to X to post: “You mess with BTS, you mess with me, evil woman. You don’t fuck with K-pop.”

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