Who is the ‘Chilean Bolsonaro’, favorite in the Chilean election

“The political authorities have not been able to maintain public order and the political leaders of the left systematically relativize violence (…) If we do not change the course of things, we are going straight to the precipice and to underdevelopment”. This excerpt is part of one of the advertising pieces by José Antonio Kast (Republican Party), leader in Chile’s presidential dispute. If his lead in the polls is confirmed this Sunday, the country will have a far-right candidate in the second round for the first time.




Photo: Ivan Alvarado / Reuters

Lawyer and son of a former Nazi army officer who immigrated to Chile, José Antonio Kast was federal deputy for four consecutive terms. This is his second attempt to reach the presidency of the Republic.

With the slogan “dare”, one of the items in its program is the recovery of social peace. In it, two proposals stand out: one of them is to eliminate the current INDH (National Institute of Human Rights), as this would not be fulfilling its purposes.

He argues that, after the start of massive protests in 2019, the INDH has only protected protesters who are victims of violence and has not given protection to the police, who were also raped. The other is to withdraw Chile from the UN (United Nations), since countries with authoritarian regimes such as Nicaragua, Venezuela and North Korea are part of the organization. He does not cite nations like Belarus and Hungary, which have right-wing anti-democratic governments.

Kast started to grow in polls in early October. Before in third place, he left behind Sebastián Sichel (Chile Vamos), the candidate of the situation, and overtook Gabriel Boric (Frente Ampla), until then the favorite, about a month ago.

In an interview with a radio station, Roberto Izikson, manager of Public Affairs at the Cadem polling institute, said that the profile of the electorate in Kast is composed mainly of older people, with greater purchasing power and who voted to reject the new Constitution in the referendum that took place. last year. According to him, there is also an increase in supporters in classes D and E.

“The reason for Kast’s growth is his speech aimed at more energetic action by the security forces. He overlaps with his hate speech also present in his homophobic, sexist, xenophobic speeches…”, says the political scientist Danae Mlynarz.

Regarding immigration, for example, the candidate intends to build a ditch at points along the Chilean border with Peru and Bolivia. It is noteworthy that combating illegal immigration has been one of the great challenges of the current administration of Sebastián Piñera.

According to Cristóbal Rovira, political scientist at Diego Portales University, Kast is able to mobilize various sectors of his electorate because he works with “different agendas”, something characteristic of the radical populist right.

One of these sectors is the “military family”, which includes those people who were either linked to the military regime of Augusto Pinochet, or who miss a tougher fight, especially in relation to delinquency. “He has never completely criticized the dictatorship and calls into question whether the judgment made against the military was fair,” he says.

“Kast also connects very well with a segment of the population, often linked to religion, who is not in favor of a progressive agenda with regard to customs, being against same-sex marriage and abortion under any circumstances. .

He proposes to transform the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality into the Ministry of the Family. At the same time, the candidate defends a tougher free market agenda.” Also according to the political scientist, these three groups do not necessarily connect with each other, but in the end they end up supporting the candidate.

Chilean Bolsonaro

A Chilean soccer team shirt and a copy of the book ‘El Ladrillo’, which addresses the economic changes carried out by the so-called ‘Chicago Boys’ during the years of Chile’s military dictatorship, as a gift, and the desire for success in the Brazilian presidential elections that year. This was the friendly atmosphere that marked the meeting between José Antonio Kast and Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, when the former Chilean deputy was in Rio de Janeiro.

“May we continue to strengthen the relationship between the two countries and together we can build an alliance that will definitively defeat the left in Latin America,” said Kast at the time through his Twitter account. Now his country’s presidential candidate, he is called by the press and analysts the “Chilean Bolsonaro” due to ideological similarities with the current president of Brazil.

An admirer of the Brazilian, in recent weeks Kast has been trying to take off his image of Bolsonaro as a strategy to garner more votes. During a debate in late September, Sebastián Sichel questioned the GOP candidate about his support for Bolsonaro. Kast replied that he does not fully support the Brazilian president. “He did important things like reducing crime and corruption in Brazil and I support that,” he assured.