Results in Chile indicate second round between ultra-right and left-wing candidates

SANTIAGO — Candidates from the left, Gabriel Boric, and the far right, José Antonio Kast, will compete in the second round of the presidential election in Chile, according to the preliminary results of Sunday’s voting. The vote was the first in 16 years that neither former president Michelle Bachelet, from the center left, nor the current head of state, conservative Sebastián Piñera, participated. second phase of the dispute, on December 19th.

With 80% of the ballots counted, Kast appears in first with 28.15%, with Boric in second, with 25.32% – to win in the first round, one of the candidates needed to have more than 50% of the valid votes.

Anti-system populist Franco Parisi — who spent the entire campaign in the US, where he lives — comes in third, with 13.19% of the vote. His proposals included tax cuts for the middle class, changes to the pension system and even the creation of a “rockódromo” for Chilean bands to perform. In such a disputed vote, Parisi’s support could turn out to be crucial.

In the final stretch of the count, the liberal Sebastián Sichel, Piñera’s candidate, moved to fourth place, with 12.39%. In the first statements after the preliminary results, he said he would not vote for Boric, whom he referred to as “the far left”, leaving the door open for talks about support for Kast.

Christian Democrat Yasna Provoste, from the centre-left, dropped to fifth with 11.87% of the vote. She has signaled that she must support Boric in the second round.

— Our will can never be neutral. I congratulated Gabriel and it will be very important, in the next few hours, [ouvir] what he is going to propose to the country,” declared Provoste.

It is not yet possible to say who led today’s dispute, as most of the votes counted come from the interior, where Kast has an advantage over Boric. The count of votes in the metropolitan region, where the candidate on the left leads, is further behind.

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In addition to the presidency, Chileans chose councilors, the 155 deputies and 27 members of the Senate, which will go from 43 to 50 seats. The expectation is that no party will obtain a majority in Congress, which will be an extra challenge for the future president.

Numbers related to turnout have not yet been released, but expectations are for a higher participation than the average of recent years. In the middle of the afternoon, the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Gloria Hutt, revealed that the volume of passengers in public transport and the number of vehicles on the streets were much higher than those seen in the referendum that approved the convening of a Constituent Convention to change the Letter inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Chronology:Chile lives two years of mobilizations and polarization

Since the end of mandatory voting in 2012, none of the presidential elections had a turnout greater than 50%, considering the two rounds of voting — in last year’s referendum, 50.8% of eligible voters voted. Since the beginning of the year, a bill to reinstate the mandatory system has been in Congress.

“The participation of our people gives strength to democracy,” Piñera said, right after voting in Santiago. — Once again we have clean and transparent elections. We set an example around the world about how democracy works in Chile.

This Sunday’s vote in Chile was identified as the most polarized and uncertain since the return to democracy in 1990. Without the leading role of Bachelet and Piñera, and with the fragmentation of center parties, a result of disenchantment with the policies of recent years and reflection of the protests that have rocked the country since 2019, the numbers at the polls showed that voters were looking for change. In particular, the youngest, a group that in recent years has registered low attendance at polling stations.

“We have to vote,” 24-year-old student Felipe Rojas told AFP. — The country needs change, we are tired of the same politicians.

For art director Pedro Tórtora, the greater attendance of young people at the polls is also explained by the desire to revalidate, at the polls, the agendas of social movements started in 2019.

— Changes not only happen through the streets, but also in the ballot boxes. That’s why it’s important not only that young people vote, but that the entire population vote to make a real change – said Tortora to AFP.

opposite views

Now, voters will have before them two radically opposed projects for the command of Chile from 2022.

The first comes in the figure of the veteran of the hard-line Chilean right, José Antonio Kast, who does not hide his admiration for the legacy of the dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), a posture that earned him the support of a nostalgic portion of the population, but which also served as a “glass ceiling” throughout the campaign.

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Earlier this month, he said, during a meeting with foreign correspondents, that the Pinochet regime could not be considered a dictatorship, saying that he “handed over power and made a transition to democracy”, during a speech in which he criticized the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela. The speech was considered disastrous by political analysts.

In another negative moment, it had a mediocre performance in the last debate between the candidates, when points of its program, including the end of the Ministry of Women and the increase of pensions only for military personnel, were raised by Boric.

However, its pro-economic liberalism positions and favorable to conservative agendas found good repercussions in some sectors of the electorate and even attracted Piñera’s allies. In his campaign closing speech, on Thursday, he returned to defend the military coup against President Salvador Allende, in 1973, drawing a parallel with the current moment in the country. When voting this Sunday, he preferred a lighter tone.

— This was a very peculiar election, in which we were able to grow because we created a study center, a party, we have a national presence, we expanded our candidacies. We had more public exposure than four years ago,” said Kast, quoted by La Tercera. — All candidates have had months to campaign and today we need to keep our opinions and wait for people to vote, in a free and informed way.

Latest statements:At the end of the campaigns in Chile, Boric defends more social rights, and Kast extols the legacy of the dictatorship

In turn, Kast’s opponent, Gabriel Boric, wants precisely to break with the system inherited from Pinochet and which is beginning to change with the elaboration of a new constitution, a process supported by the candidate of the Frente Amplio. He defends a greater participation of the State in the economy, the increase of taxes to the upper classes and the advance in behavioral guidelines, such as the legalization of abortion and marriage between people of the same sex.

Coming from the student movement, he actively participated in the October 2019 protests, and was appointed as one of the articulators of the sewing around the pact to call a plebiscite to carry out a constitutional reform. Unlike other leftist leaders in Latin America, he has a tough stance in relation to authoritarian regimes like those in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, thus trying to dispel the image of radicalism — his ticket includes, in addition to the Frente Amplio, its acronym , the Communist Party, which was part of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity, overthrown in the 1973 coup.

— This is a historic moment, but it is not about just one person, but a collective project, it is about hope overcoming fear, about being able to build a fair, dignified Chile — declared Boric, before depositing your votes. The candidate also denied that his delay at the polling place, in the city of Punta Arenas (South), was because he forgot his identity card at home.

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