ELECTIONS IN CHILE: Kast and Boric, 28 days to achieve the objective in Chile: unite the political center | International


José Antonio Kast, with his wife, after the dissemination of the results.
José Antonio Kast, with his wife, after the dissemination of the results.IVAN ALVARADO (Reuters)

This Sunday the race against time has begun for the candidates for the presidency of Chile who have gone to the second round on December 19: the ultra-conservative José Antonio Kast and the leftist Gabriel Boric. With less than 2.3 points of difference –27.95% for the leader of the Republican Party and 25.73% for the deputy of the Broad Front in alliance with the Communist Party–, both start 28 crucial days to conquer 46% of the voters who opted for another of the five candidacies for La Moneda. It is the first time in a democracy that Chile will elect its president in a second round election where none of the candidates is in the moderate positions, because both the right-wing ruling party Sebastián Sichel and the center-left Christian Democrat Yasna Provoste – with 12.69% and 11.66% – they came in fourth and fifth place, respectively. The surprise of the night was the economist Franco Parisi, who with a populist and anti-political discourse settled in third place, with 12.9%, in an unprecedented campaign where he did not even set foot in Chile, because he is based in the United States. .

Kast leads Boric by about 150,000 votes and, if the election were like those that Chile has held since 1990, the right-wing would probably be the winner: in the presidential elections where second rounds have been held – all since 1999, when Ricardo was measured. Lagos and Joaquín Lavín– the applicant who finished second in the first round has never won. But it will not be a traditional definition, precisely because the alliances that the candidates must form with a view to December 19 will have special relevance. They both know it and have made it explicit on Sunday night in their first speeches after the results were known. The first to speak was Kast, outside his campaign command, in the capital city of Las Condes. Along with ensuring that he has a “majority vocation”, he summoned the ruling party of the Chile Podemos Más alliance: “We are going to choose between freedom and communism,” they were invited by the candidate who, as a sign of openness, resigned from the presidency of the Republican Party that leads and is not part of the governing coalition.

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Accompanied by his wife, Kast assured that this month he hopes to show the public that he did not support him this Sunday “why it is important that this political project continues to grow.” “Chile deserves peace, it deserves freedom and that is what we are going to give it,” the candidate who bases his proposal on public order, security, economic growth and immigration control said in his speech. He gestured to the electorate of Parisi and Provoste, as well as to candidate Sichel, who this afternoon opened the door to talks. So did government parties, such as RN and the UDI, whose leaders came to congratulate Kast personally for the results. It seems clear that the withdrawal will not be difficult for the right wing, despite its two souls, the liberal and the ultra-conservative.

In the opposition the movements of the tectonic plates for the second round began soon. The first to react was the president of the Socialist Party, Senator Álvaro Elizalde, even before his candidate Provoste. “We want to call all Chileans to vote in the second round in favor of the candidate Gabriel Boric, without ambiguity,” said the leader of the Socialists. It was highly predictable. Chilean socialism a few months ago was inches from a presidential alliance with the Broad Front and the Communist Party, which was frustrated because the left put conditions at the last minute. In this first round campaign, although the official candidate of the party was Provoste, an important part of the socialist militancy worked for Boric, as did some of its leaders, such as Salvador Allende’s granddaughter, deputy Maya Fernández.

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But the Christian Democrats, part of the backbone of the extinct Concertación in conjunction with the socialists, took a different path from that of its former political allies, thus breaking a historical braid that always joined forces to reach La Moneda. The candidate Provoste reported that whoever wins in the second round, her party will remain in the opposition, thus avoiding a break in its ranks. The president of the formation, Carmen Frei, added that any decision will be made institutionally in the party’s national board: “We are not about to support right-wing sectors, but we will not give a blank check either,” he assured in reference to Boric.

The mystery remains Parisi, the economist who first came forward to La Moneda in 2013, when he garnered 10% support. He did not register in person as a candidate for La Moneda and has campaigned without setting foot in Chile. He practically did not participate in the debates – only in those that allowed his participation online – and did not vote this Sunday. His total absence during the campaign has been interpreted as a consequence of his pending issues with the justice: an arrest warrant for a millionaire alimony debt and his pending statement due to the criminal investigation against him. His explanations for not being in the country have passed since his work commitments in the United States and, in the end, a contagion of covid-19 that prevents him from traveling. It is a great rarity of this presidential that is explained, in part, because Chilean electoral laws do not regulate this type of situation. “It is a game that is on the verge of legality”, explained the lawyer and academic Valeria Lübbert, director of Democracy and Anticorruption at the Espacio Público study center.

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In Chile, no one knows for sure how his electorate will behave vis-a-vis Kast and Boric. Juan Pardo, a sociologist at the Feedback pollster, assures that “Parisi’s vote does not belong to anyone.” For the electoral expert Mauricio Morales, “it is an ideologically difficult vote to classify on the left-right axis, due to its pragmatism.” “But I tend to think that order makes much more sense to his electorate than the revolution, so it seems closer to Kast’s programmatic platform than to Boric’s,” explains the academic from the University of Talca.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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