Left-wing MP Boric wins polarized elections in Chile

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Left-wing MP Gabriel Boric, 35, will become the youngest president in Chile’s history after a comfortable victory in the most polarized elections in the South American nation since his return to democracy. more than 30 years.

With virtually every vote counted, the progressive millennium that erupted a decade ago as the leader of the student protest with hairy hair had garnered nearly 56% of the ballot box.

This is compared to 44% of his opponent, José Antonio Kast, 55, a far-right politician and admirer of Chile’s former military dictatorship.

In a Twitter message, Kast said he had spoken to Boric and conceded.

“From today [Boric] he is the president-elect of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive cooperation, “said Kast, about an hour after the polls closed.” Chile is always first. “

Boric is due to take office on March 11 for a four-year term. The day of the inauguration will be 36 years.

“I will be the president of all Chileans, of those who voted for me, of those who did not, of those who did not vote,” Boric said on Sunday in a video call with outgoing President Sebastián Piñera.

Boric will face a divided Congress that will force him to negotiate with the right-wing opposition as he begins to try to implement a broad agenda.

However, the results represented the last victory of the left in Latin America, where the COVID-19 pandemic has mistreated the economies and left many voters bitter in the traditional political parties. Left-wing leaders have been elected since 2020 to two of Chile’s neighbors, Bolivia and Peru, and a center-left president leads adjacent Argentina.

The second round in Chile featured a contrasting study: the Communist Party’s allied left-wing student activist and the free-market ultraconservative that reminds many of former President Trump and his devout South American Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

In recent weeks, the race has become a contest to attract midway voters, with both candidates moderating some of their most extreme positions. The results showed that Boric was more successful in seducing voters beyond his left-wing base.

In the first round vote last month, Kast finished first and Boric second in a fragmented vote that saw no one get a majority, leading to Sunday’s second round.

Both candidates represent a striking rebuke to the centrist left and right parties that have alternated in governing Chile since 1990, after 17 years of military rule by the late General Augusto Pinochet.

Many voters, both left-wing and right-wing citizens, seemed motivated to vote in an effort to prevent a candidate they considered an extremist from seizing power.

“I voted for Boric just so he wouldn’t win right-wing fascism,” said Felipe Malinarich, 23, who studied physical training but works as a laundress, after voting in the working-class neighborhood of San Bernardo, south of Santiago. “I decided to give the minor evil a chance.”

Among those who voted for Kast was Lucía Barrera, a 69-year-old mother who stays at home.

“This is a critical election for Chile because, in my humble opinion, our freedom is at stake,” Barrera said after voting in the affluent area of ​​Las Condes, east of Santiago. “The left-wing candidate is allied with the Communist Party, which we all know is not democratic.”

Running under the banner of the left-wing coalition I Approve of Dignity, Boric has repeatedly denounced “neoliberalism,” the conservative free-market strategy promoted by the so-called Chicago Boys, influential Chilean economists trained at the University of Chicago.

“If Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave!” Boric declared in July.

Since its emergence from the Pinochet dictatorship, Chile — the world’s largest copper producer and a reliable ally of the United States — has been widely seen as a rich bastion of stability and economic progress in a volatile region. However, the mass street protests of 2019 exposed deep divisions in the nation of 19 million where, amid considerable wealth, half of the workers earn about $ 500 a month. Opposition to the increase in the traffic rate quickly spread in a national mobilization against inequality.

Kast, a former MP who admires the Pinochet government, worked with a socially conservative, anti-immigrant, and tax-cutting agenda that reminded him of Trump. His law and order statements drew many still enraged by the 2019 riots, which left at least 31 people dead, paralyzed the country for months and set it on fire in shopping malls, supermarkets and subway stations.

Boric was one of the architects of the deal that helped end the 2019 protest and led to a referendum to rewrite the constitution imposed in 1980 by Pinochet.

In his campaign, Boric promised a “gradual” implementation of his controversial plans to nationalize pension and health care systems, raise the minimum wage to $ 600 a month (from $ 400) and reduce the working day from 45 to 40 hours. He has also backtracked on a proposal to disband the national police, known as the carabinieri, instead calling for reforms.

Special correspondent Poblete reported from Santiago and writer McDonnell of the Mexico City Times.

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