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duel between the far right and the left coalition for the second round of the presidential election

Chilean voters will have the choice, in the second round of the presidential election, between two political models at the antipodes. According to results covering 95.58% of the ballots, José Antonio Kast (for the extreme right) and Gabriel Boric (for the left) are the two winners of the ballot on Sunday 21 November.

Mr. Kast, a 55-year-old former deputy and lawyer, won 27.95% of the vote, ahead of Mr. Boric, a 35-year-old former student leader and deputy, who won 25.71% of the vote. Both were favorites in the most recent polls, standing outside the right-wing and center-left coalitions that have governed the country since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990). The second round will take place on December 19.

Mr. Boric, the candidate of the left-wing coalition Apruebo Dignidad, which notably includes the Communists, could count on the support of many young Chileans, who aspire to a more egalitarian society, after the wave of unprecedented social protest at the end of 2019.

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Unprecedented rise of the far right

But the past few months have also seen an unprecedented rise of the far right in the polls, fueled by continued violence by the most radical protesters and voters’ growing concerns about illegal immigration and crime. Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic has raised unemployment, increased the debt and inflation is now around 6%, a novelty in this country which has experienced decades of political and economic stability.

Some 15 million voters – out of a population of 19 million – were called to the polls to decide between seven presidential candidates, to renew the entire Chamber of Deputies, half of the Senate, as well as the regional councils. In Chile, voting has not been compulsory since 2012. No turnout figures were available.

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Mr. Kast displays his sympathy for the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, but refuses to be cataloged as being on the far right. The leader of the Republican Party wants to maintain the neoliberal model inherited from the Pinochet dictatorship and promises to impose “order, security and freedom”. Its economic program proposes to reduce public spending, lower taxes and abolish several ministries, including that of the status of women and gender equality.

” The essential [est que] everyone can express themselves freely.said the father of nine, after voting in Paine, 37 kilometers south of Santiago.

“Let hope prevail over fear”

Gabriel Boric, leader of the left-wing Apruebo Dignidad coalition, in front of his supporters, in Santiago, November 21, 2021.

Mr. Boric – the youngest presidential candidate in the country’s history and who is just of legal age to run – promises a welfare state model and the guarantee of social rights. “Let hope prevail over fear”he launched while voting in his hometown of Punta Arenas, in the far south of the country. “We represent the process of change and transformation that is happening. »

In 2011, he took the lead in high school and student demonstrations for a “free education” ; in Chile, the majority of education is in the private sector. In 2019, he supported demonstrations for more social justice and played a role, as a deputy, in the signing of the historic agreement in Parliament for the organization of a referendum on a change of Constitution, finally acclaimed by 79% of Chileans.

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The candidate of the liberal right, Franco Parisi, who lives in Alabama, in the United States, and has not set foot in Chile during the electoral campaign, created the surprise by rising to third place (13%) , ahead of center-left senator Yasna Provoste (12%) and right-wing ruling candidate Sebastian Sichel (12%), according to partial results.

Conservative President Sebastian Piñera, 71, will leave office in March 2022. He could not stand for a second term in a row.

This election takes place in a Chile in transition, in the process of drafting a new Constitution and two years after an unprecedented social crisis to demand a fairer society in this country rich in copper, but among the most unequal in the world, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The World with AFP

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