Chile turns leftward with election of its youngest-ever president — Analysis
Former student protest leader Gabriel Boric has defeated conservative Jose Antonio Kast in Chile’s presidential election, becoming the nation’s youngest leader in modern times.
Kast conceded defeat on Sunday with Boric holding a sizable lead – at around 55% to 45% — with more than two-thirds of the votes counted. Boric, 35, has pledged to expand Chile’s social programs, nationalize the pension system and raise government revenue through taxes on the massive mining companies that operate in the country.
Acabo de hablar con @gabrielboric y lo he felicitado por su gran triunfo. Desde hoy es el Presidente electo de Chile y merece todo nuestro respeto y colaboración constructiva. Chile siempre está primero ????????✌️ pic.twitter.com/AvpBKs0GFT
— José Antonio Kast Rist ???????? (@joseantoniokast) December 19, 2021
Although it was one of the most bitter and divisive presidential races since Chile’s return to democracy over three decades ago. Kast only congratulated him about 90 minutes later. “From today, he is the elected president of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration,”Kast stated.
Sunday’s runoff election was necessary because none of the seven candidates received more than 30% of the votes cast in last month’s first round. Kast, who was Catholic and campaigned on tax cuts, as well as a promise to stop immigration, won almost 28% of the votes. Boric took 26% during the first round. He was helped by Santiago’s strong urban support.
Boric won the Chilean presidency’s first runoff victory after failing to lead in round one. He may have been helped by revelations this month that Kast’s father was a German Nazi during World War II, but Boric also alienated some Jewish voters by demanding Chilean Jews protest Israel’s occupation in West Bank.
At a crucial time in Chile’s history, the president of the Republic will assume the presidency. Chile is currently drafting a new constitution that will replace the 1973 one adopted by General Augusto Pinochet. Boric pledged to preserve abortion rights and same-sex marital rights as well as to increase rights for indigenous Chileans (including Mapuche indians).
Boric will take office in March, succeeding Sebastian Piñera, a businessman-turned-politician who became the first Chilean conservative to win a presidential election since military rule ended in 1990.