Chile has this Sunday its first election in 16 years without Piñera or Bachelet; meet the candidates | World

This Sunday (21), Chileans go to the polls to choose a new president, senators, deputies and regional councilors. There are more than 4,400 candidates for 485 elective positions. For the Senate, where the term is eight years, this year’s election will only take place in nine of the sixteen regions of the country.

This will be the first time in 16 years that neither Michelle Bachelet nor Sebastián Piñera are running for president.

Below is a list of candidates and their intention to vote in the Plaza Pública poll carried out on November 5th:

  • José Antonio Kast (Republican Party), with 25%;
  • Gabriel Boric (Social Convergence), with 19%;
  • Franc Parisi (Party of the People), with 10%
  • Yasna tasted (Christian Democratic Party), with 9%;
  • Sebastian Sichel (Independent), with 8%;
  • Marco Enriquez-Ominami (Progressive Party), with 5%
  • Edward Arts (Patriotic Union), with 2%

In Chile, voting is optional. In the last two big elections, the turnout was no more than 50% of the total eligible voters.

In 2017, when Sebastián Piñera was elected, voter turnout in the first round was 46% and in the second round it was 48%.

  • Sandra Cohen: Piñera’s unpopularity facilitated the rise of far-right Kast in Chile

Image of polling booths in Chile, November 19, 2021 — Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP

José Antonio Kast on campaign, November 11, 2021 — Photo: Javier Torres/ AFP

José Antonio Kast is a conservative lawyer and represents the far right. In his presidential program, he proposes to reduce the state’s presence in institutions, reduce taxes, privatize state-owned companies and eliminate the Ministry of Women and Gender Equity. Contrary to abortion, Kast has already released fake news on the subject.

For 20 years, he was from the ultra-conservative Independent Democratic Union party. In 2019, he created the Republican Party. In 2017, he was in fourth place, with 7.93% of the votes.

Son of German immigrants who arrived in Chile in 1951. His family owned a sausage factory and a chain of restaurants.

Boric: the candidate from the left

Gabriel Boric, 35, is the candidate of the left alliance, which brings together the Communist Party and the Frente Amplio.

Gabriel Boric during speech in Valparaíso, November 18, 2021 — Photo: Martin Bernetti / AFP

In his campaign, he has advocated a model of state similar to that of some European countries.

He proposes the creation of a minimum pension of 250 thousand pesos (about R$1,700).

The system would be financed by the contribution of active workers – today, active workers pay 10%, Boric says that the idea would be to gradually increase it to 18%, and that part of the burden would remain with the employer.

Sebastian Sichel, 44, is the candidate for the Piñera government. In the economy, it defends the free market allied to a strong State.

For him, the Social Security model would be similar to the current one, but it would break the oligopoly of current pension fund managers to increase competition. He says that the model he prefers is something similar to what exists in Australia.

Yasna tasted, 51, is the Christian Democrat candidate. She is currently a senator.

She was minister of former president Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet. One of his most popular campaign promises is the increase in the base salary of teachers.

In her electoral program, she foresees the creation of more public companies. She also thinks it is necessary to have a transition plan for the country after the Covid-19 crisis, which aims to neutralize part of the impact caused on the economy by the social protests that have erupted in the country since October 2019.

Franc Parisi, a right-wing candidate, lives in the United States and did not set foot in Chile during the campaign. He has child support debt that already exceeds $207 million Chilean pesos (about R$1.3 million).

Kast and Boric are expected to go into the second round, according to political scientist Javier Sajuria.

For him, the candidate who wins will be the one with the least rejection. “The vote against Kast is possible, but Boric and the Communist Party (which supports him) also have to face a rejection – it won’t be unpredictable if, in the second round, the right uses the support that the Communist Party gives to Boric.” says Sajuria.

After the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, Chilean democracy had years of moderate governments that were supported by a broad coalition. This has weakened, says Sajuria. “On the one hand, there was an erosion of a coalition that spent 20 years in power and difficult to avoid bad policy practices for so long. Furthermore, there is a notion that in the years of the Concertación (coalition name) there was a more moderate politics that it was considered capitalist or liberal and that there was little questioning of this model.”

President and the New Constitution

Although the next president is not directly involved in the drafting of the new Constitution, the referendum to approve it will take place in the mandate of whoever is elected this year.

The next president can influence this vote, says Sajuria. Kast has already said that if there’s something he doesn’t like, he’ll do it.

“Once the Constitution is approved, there are a series of reforms that need to be made for the text to actually work. This could take years or be faster, and will require a lot of agility and skill from the Executive”, says Sajuria.