Leftist Boric Wins Chilean Presidential Election

SANTIAGO DE CHILE (AP) – Leftist and former student leader Gabriel Boric won the presidential election in Chile on Sunday, the most polarized in the recent history of the South American country.

As soon as a little more than half of the minutes were recorded, the far-right lawyer José Antonio Kast recognized Boric’s triumph and promised to collaborate with him. “As of today, he is the elected president of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration. Chile is always first ”, he pointed out.

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With 99.76% of the tally sheets, Boric received 55.9% of the vote and Kast 44.1%.

Neither candidate belonged to the traditional political parties, and both had said they would give a new turn to a country that for the last three decades has been governed by leaders closer to the political center.

The outgoing president Sebastián Piñera congratulated Boric in a video call, in which the elected president appeared in a light shirt and black jacket, and with his hands resting on a table on which there was a small national flag to his left.

Boric, who will turn 36 in February, will be Chile’s youngest modern president. He thanked Piñera for the call and sent a message to the Chileans: “Know that I am going to do my best to be up to this tremendous challenge.”

He also said that the call from Piñera and Kast “speaks very well of our democracy, which must be maintained and strengthened by all of us.” The outgoing president invited Boric to come to the Palacio de la Moneda on Monday for an information meeting in view of the change of power.

Boric will assume the presidency on March 11, 2022 and will have a new Congress, renewed a month ago, with a Senate in balance of power. He will be obliged to agree with the center-left deputies to promote his bills.

With Boric’s triumph there is a possibility of change “that must be supported and the people have to be there,” they have to support, Boric Soto, a 33-year-old teacher, told the AP.

Tens of thousands of supporters gathered on the main avenue of the Chilean capital waving multi-colored flags. The festivities were repeated in popular neighborhoods and in interior towns. Hundreds of young people under the age of 30 chanted in the subway: “feel it, feel it, Boric president!”

“I hope it is a government of reconciliation where peace and progress can be reconciled,” Sebastián Martínez, one of hundreds of thousands of people who came out to celebrate the triumph of his can didate, told the AP.

A couple of hours after winning the elections in the second round, Boric addressed the waiting crowd and, in his first speech as president-elect, declared: “I will be the president of all Chileans, of those who voted for this project, of those who chose another alternative and of those who did not vote ”.

“We want a democracy where the people have a leading role,” he added.

In his government program, Boric assumed most of the social demands accumulated in Chile. At the end of 2019 there were massive protests to demand that they be fulfilled.

Miguel Ángel López, an academic at the University of Chile, told the AP that the triumph of the leftist deputy “consolidates with more force a generational change in politics … (Boric) has raised many expectations in the short term, and to the extent that it achieves it is going to displace the traditional center-left parties ”.

For his part, Rodrigo Arellano, vice-dean of the Faculty of Government at the Universidad del Desarrollo, told the AP that Boric “is going to have an opposition that is going to defend his country vision … he is going to have to understand that moderation it must be an axis ”, and it will have to“ capture the changes it has generated ”.

Boric was one of several activists elected to Congress in 2014 after leading protests for higher quality education. A strong detractor of Augusto Pinochet’s neoliberal economic model, he proposes gradually increasing taxes on the “super rich” to expand social services, combat inequality and promote environmental protection.

Kast, 55, is a devout Catholic and father of nine who is running for president for the second time. With a long history of defending Chile’s military dictatorship, he had a harsh speech, a history of criticism of the LGBTQ community, and is opposed to abortion and equal marriage. He also accused Piñera of betraying the economic legacy of Pinochet, who controlled the country by force of arms for almost 17 years.

Not a few voters voted out of fear that their favorite might not win.

“I experienced what the left was in this country and I never want to experience it again,” Beatriz Lagos, a 61-year-old public employee who says she supported Kast, told the AP.

In recent weeks, both candidates moderated their programs and speeches to win over the central electorate that did not vote for the majority in November.

On the economic side, Jaime Baeza, academic at the Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Chile, told the AP that “there will be a nervousness in the markets in the first days, but later it is most likely that things will return to their normal flow, especially when the president-elect announces his economic team.

The next government will face a complex panorama in this regard. After a growth of between 11.5% and 12% this year, it would fall to 2% in 2022, as announced by Mario Marcel, president of the Central Bank, with inflation close to 7%, more than double the goal of 3 % that Chile has had for years.

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Associated Press reporter Patricia Luna contributed to this report.

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