As the polls pointed out, the presidential ballot – second round – of Chile will be disputed between the candidate of the extreme right, José Antonio Kast, the representative of the left, Gabriel Boric. Kast prevailed in the first round with 27.9% of the votes, while Boric was second with 25.8%. A surprise for many, since most forecasts pointed to the victory of the left in this first round. Only two points of difference separate both candidates, the narrowest figure in the last 20 years between the first two majorities that win in the first round.
“We have taken the first step to make hope a reality. We are going to regain peace, order, progress and freedom. We will free ourselves from drug trafficking, terrorism, crime and violence […] The only candidacy that will bring peace is ours, “said Kast with a Chilean flag in his hands, from the stage where he celebrated his triumph. An ultra-right lawyer and denier of the dictatorship, Kast has recovered the figure of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and of his regime.RELATED
Boric, 35, aspires to be the youngest president of Chile. Coming from the student movement, he made the leap to politics and has been a deputy for two legislatures. Now he will play the second round to get to La Moneda. At his command, the night was lived with much uncertainty and concern during the first hours of the count, when the difference between the two was more than four points. Their vote was concentrated in the Metropolitan Region and increased as the scrutiny that came from the capital and surroundings progressed.
“The results show that Chile has not changed in the way it seemed,” says University academic Alberto Hurtado and specialist in Political Communication, Fernando García Naddaf. In his opinion, “Kast’s campaign managed to tune in more with the fears that emerged in recent times: the crime on the rise, the violence of the mobilizations, the migratory crisis and the violence and complexity with the Mapuche area.” For María Cristina Escudero, an academic at the Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Chile, Kast has managed to call the vote from outside the Metropolitan Region, in rural areas, where the majority did not participate in the last constituent elections, which gave good results for the independent and left-wing candidates.
The two traditional coalitions of Chilean politics – Chile Podemos Más, on the right, and Nuevo Trato, on the center-left – were the big losers of the night. For the first time since the return to democracy, in 1991, they have been excluded from the ballot to be held on December 19.
“We did not do well, it is good to admit it […] The Chileans decided that other people should go to the second round, ”said Sebastián Sichel, a candidate from the right, who added 12% of the votes. For her part, Yasna Provoste, champion of the center-left, with 11.7%, lamented: “We did everything in our power”. The defeat of both has been such that even the candidate Franco Parisi, who lives in the United States and has not set foot in the country throughout the campaign, has managed to surpass his results and be in third position.
However, for the member of the Network of Politologists, Julieta Suárez, these bad results do not translate into her extinction from the political map: “The center has not disappeared, because it did well in the legislative elections.” This Sunday the 155 deputies and deputies and a third of the Senate were also renewed, where the right wing obtained the best results. Its deputies, in addition, can add a majority in the Lower House if they articulate with the seats that the extreme right won. “Despite the presidential election, the traditional right and center-left did well in Congress and continue to be an important force for decision-making,” says Escudero.
“A very tough second round is coming, very polarized,” says Fernando García. According to him, Kast will maintain the strategy of associating Boric with Venezuela and Nicaragua, with the migration crisis and the complexity of the Mapuche region, where in recent months the conflict with the Chilean state has intensified. Boric, for his part, should associate Kast with the dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-1993), his legacy and fascism. “This shock is very violent and will be noticed in the coming weeks,” he anticipates. “There will be a lot of message of fear from one side to the other,” adds María Cristina Escudero.
From the 1990 elections until now, there is an electoral dynamic that has always been fulfilled: the candidate who wins the elections in the first round is proclaimed the winner of the second round. If Boric wants to convince the rest of the opposition forces to give him their support for the ballot, he will have to initiate dialogues and, probably, modify some points of his program to get closer to the center. For now he has received public support from the Socialist Party. “Let us not fall into any disdain or contempt for those who opted for other alternatives, we must listen and understand why they took them,” he said during his speech as a nod to this other part of the electorate. Kast has also shown signs of wanting to expand his majority: “We have to start calling many more people, we have to go for all those who for some reason did not dare to vote for us,” he said.
“For the ballot we will see more conciliatory messages to attract the votes that are in the center of both sides and so that people do not stay at home,” says María Cristina Escudero. Despite the relevance of the call, participation was 44%, less than in the 2017 presidential elections, than the constitutional plebiscite and the election of constituents. The ability to mobilize voters will be a key factor in the final result on December 19.