Radical candidates from the left and right will take the second round in the Chile, in a dispute considered the most unpredictable since the redemocratization of the country, in 1990. With 65.52% of the ballot boxes selected by the conclusion of this edition, the ultra-rightist Jose Antonio Kast, 55 years old, from the Republican Party, led with 28.42% of the votes compared to 24.90% of the left-wing deputy Gabriel Boric, 35 years old, from Convergência Social.
The second round takes place in December 19th, and the result is unpredictable. For the first time since the redemocratization of Chile, the parties that have governed the country until today will not be in the dispute. “It’s a strong fact: after 30 years the two coalitions that governed Chile are not going to the second round and run the risk of being in 4th and 5th place”, said Daniel Zovatto, director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Institute for Democracy and International Electoral Assistance (Idea). “We will have a very polarized runoff, where Kast starts with a certain advantage, and the level of voter turnout will be one of several keys.”
Boric spent the campaign preaching a change in the liberal economic model and defending the radical left’s banners, such as a new pension system that would ensure a minimum amount of 250 thousand pesos for everyone over 65, a minimum wage of 500 thousand pesos by 2025, 500,000 new jobs for women and a 40-hour workweek.
On gender issues, the deputy defends the criminalization of violence against women, legalization of abortion and the LGBT social rights plan.
Now Kast – an admirer of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 to 1990 – bet his chips on a speech to resume “order, security and freedom” after the violent popular uprising faced by current president Sebastián Piñera in October of 2019.
Kast proposes a “cultural, ideological and programmatic battle to resume the path of true human dignity and development”, inspired by what he calls the “republic-freedom-family triad”. He defends the end of the gender agenda (in 2017, in a tweet, he criticized an alleged “gay lobby”) and family subsidies only for married couples.
Chile ends post-dictatorship Pinochet cycle
Analysts said yesterday’s elections would end an old political cycle in the country, as the two favorites distanced themselves from the traditional party coalitions that ruled Chile in recent decades after the end of the dictatorship. “It is a cycle of consolidation of a model of capitalist accumulation that would end now”, said the political analyst at the University of Santiago, Marcelo Mella. “It can be argued that these are the last elections of the old cycle, as they could end up with a different result,” said Raúl Elgueta, a political scientist at the same university.
Although Boric and Kast are political personalities with a long trajectory and occupy seats in the Chamber of Deputies (Boric since 2014 and Kast since 2002), they are much less famous than the protagonists of previous disputes.
“Neither is a candidate comparable to Lagos, Bachelet or Piñera,” commentator Carlos Correa wrote in the newspaper the third, from Santiago, referring to former presidents Ricardo Lagos and Michele Bachelet, of the Socialist Party, and the current incumbent.
The new faces of Chilean politics are one of the many results of the wave of protests of 2019 and 2020, dubbed Santiagaço, which resulted in the election of a Constituent Assembly for the country.
Politicians from traditional parties will be faithful to the balance
The two candidates representing the traditional Chilean parties were left out of the second round dispute. Liberal right-wing lawyer Sebastián Sichel, who is running as an independent but with government support, and former Michelle Bachelet minister Yasna Provoste, of centre-left, could be the balance sheet in the second round.
Piñera, who leaves the post worn out, did not even bother to defend his administration after voting and preferred to praise Chilean democracy. “For those who are elected, never forget that they must be of service to the people. We ask everyone to contribute to improving the quality of our policy,” he said after leaving the Municipal Stadium in the commune of Las Condes. “Every vote counts, every opinion matters,” he said.