Chile elects a new president this Sunday. Seven candidates from across the ideological arc will contest the succession of Sebastián Piñera. The polls anticipate that neither will reach half plus one of the votes and there will be a second round on December 19 between the two candidates with the most votes today. The favorites are the leader of the extreme right, José Antonio Kast, and the leftist Gabriel Boric. It is not ruled out, however, that there may be a last-minute surprise and the right-wing Sebastián Sichel or the Christian Democrat Yasna Provoste achieve their pass.
In addition to being president, Chileans will elect a new Chamber of Deputies and part of the Senate.
The day started calmly and with long lines, due to the cumbersome voting system. Voting in Chile is not mandatory and participation is usually low, around 50%. The political climate is, however, agitated. These elections will define a new course for Chile after the revolts of 2019, whose echoes still endure.
Follow the election in Chile with EL PAÍS
José Antonio Kast voted early in the morning at table 84 of the Ana Mogas de Paine School. Minutes later, the far-right candidate received a message recorded on his social networks, a tool that was key during his campaign.
“I want to thank everyone who has followed us on social networks. Today is a crucial election for the future of Chile,” said Kast, and called on voters to leave their homes to vote.
Total seven candidates seek their pass to La Moneda this Sunday. In addition to Boric and Kast, there are at least two that today could give a surprise.
Sebastian Sichel he is an independent who ranks third in the polls. It represents the more traditional right-wing option, which denies Kast’s extreme and populist style (more associated with, for example, Jair Bolsonaro in Brasl). Sichel is the candidate who represents the option of President Sebastián Piñera.
Yasna Provoste She is a senator for the Cristina Democracy and represents the moderate left. His inheritance is that of Concertación, as the alliance with the Socialist Party that led the democratic transition for 20 years was called. Provoste, like Sichel, has paid the cost of the flight of votes to the extremes, which has emptied the options of the center.
Surveys anticipate that no candidate will reach the 50% required to win in the first round. If so, there will be a playoff on December 19. The two favorites are at the extremes of the political spectrum.
Jose Antonio Kast he is the candidate of the extreme right. He has the support of those who want to restore the lost order after the social outbreak of October 2019. His vote is transversal: very broad in the wealthy classes that traditionally vote for the right, but also among immigrants and the middle class that has been seen affected by the excesses. Kast promises a strong hand against crime and immigration and maintains a very conservative social agenda, against abortion and equal marriage. He has not denied Pinochetism.
Gabriel Boric is the second favorite of the day. Emerged from the student protests of 2011, he is 35 years old. If he wins, he will be the youngest president in the history of Chile. Boric represents the Chilean left, in alliance with the Communist Party. His agenda coincides with the demands of the riots: more social benefits, public health and free education and a reform of the pension system, now in private hands. His vote is solid among the youngest, in the popular neighborhoods and in those who have always proclaimed themselves opponents of the Pinochet dictatorship.
You can read here a profile of Gabriel Boric
Welcome to the live coverage of the elections in Chile.
We will accompany you from Santiago de Chile throughout the election day. The day has started calmly, far from the political tension of the previous days. Most of the seven candidates to succeed President Sebastián Piñera in La Moneda have already voted.
The election is the most momentous since the return to democracy in Chile in 1990. The winner will have to manage the political crisis that began with the revolts of 2019. Voters have been divided between those who want the continuity of the Chilean model and those who want a profound change of course.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.