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Argentine President Javier Milei secured his first legislative win Thursday after the parliament’s upper house narrowly approved a package of free-market reforms and fiscal measures aimed at reviving the country’s struggling economy, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The package – passed after hours of debate and violent protests – includes labor reforms and the privatization of state companies. The vote saw intense opposition from labor unions and left-wing groups outside Argentina’s legislature, leading to violent clashes with police.

Authorities said at least 20 police officers were injured and more than a dozen protesters arrested, according to Sky News.

The approved reforms were significantly scaled back from the original proposal which consisted of more than 600 articles. The initial bill sought to privatize more than 40 state companies, but the approved version will fully privatize only two, while four others will open to private capital.

One of the discarded proposals included the government’s plan to reinstate an income tax after the latter was removed by the previous left-wing government.

The bill will now move to the lower house of parliament for further discussions before it is signed into law.

The contentious economic package is part of Milei’s “shock therapy” to revive Argentina’s decades-long financial crisis that has seen soaring inflation and increased poverty.

The president has hailed the vote as “the first step to recovering our greatness.” Critics of the bill fear that the reforms will harm workers’ rights and sell off national assets.

Analysts told the Journal that the legislative win underscores Milei’s cooperation with opposition parties in congress, where his Freedom Advances Party has less than 15 percent of seats.

Since he was sworn in December, Milei has devalued Argentina’s currency and cut public spending, prompting the country’s first quarterly budget surpluses in 16 years.

His policies have also reduced monthly inflation to 8.8 percent in April, down from 25 percent in December.

However, the measures have also worsened the economic situation with poverty increasing from 44 to 56 percent in the first quarter, according to Argentina’s Catholic University.

Observers said more signs of economic recovery are crucial to avoid further economic instability. Despite the backlash, Milei maintains that the economy will soon improve.

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