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The Leftist Millennial Who Could Lead One of Latin America’s Wealthiest and Most Unequal Countries

Gabriel Boric, a student protester of 25 years, led tens to thousands of students through Santiago’s streets ten years ago. He had shaggy hair, a beard and was dressed in a beard. As head of a major student union, he shook Chile’s establishment by leading rallies that brought reforms to Chile’s privatized education system. Today, aged 35—and with slightly tidier hair—Boric is within striking distance of Chile’s presidency.

Chile’s Nov. 21 election, where Boric is one of two frontrunners, is the most high-stakes moment yet in a tumultuous two year national debate over the market-centered economic model established by military dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1980s. The system made Chile an attractive country for investors, and it was one of the most wealthy countries with its deregulated business environment and privatized public service. South America
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However, it also created theHighest rate of inequality In the OECD Group of Developed Nations and Unsustainable Living Costs for Poorer Chileans Six out of ten households earn too little money to pay monthly expenses.According to the National Statistics Institute. In October 2019, thousands participated in the months-long campaign. anti-government protests—a so-called “social explosion”—which culminated in To rewrite Pinochet’s constitution, a nationwide vote will be held in 2020.

Boric is a former congressman who spent seven years advocating the ideals of the social revolution. He will be elected to the House. Boric-led leftwing alliance would Increase taxes on major industries, ramp up public spending to overhaul services, and scrap the private pension system that has underpinned Chile’s capital markets. “If Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave,” heRallyed After winning the primaries for Approve Dignity, leftists won July.

Jeremias Gonzalez—NurPhoto/Getty ImagesRiot police vehicles spray tear gaz at demonstrators during a protest against Chile’s government in Santiago, Chile, November 4, 2019.

You can read more about it here Boric’s supporters it’s a long-awaited chance to transform a country that has never worked for a majority of its citizens. For Seine Kritiker, it’s a radical overreaction that will destroy the foundation of Chile’s wealth and stability.

To deliver his vision, though, Boric would have to defeat another insurgent, José Antonio Kast, 51. Kast is a former congressman of far right with connections to the Pinochet government. He has surged in recent polls for the past six month. His conservative hardline stances regarding police brutality, immigration and indigenous rights have earned him a reputation. Comparations to Brazil’sJair Bolsonaro.

Recent polls put Kast on 26.5% of the vote, only marginally ahead of Boric’s 25%. Although it is difficult for pollsters to forecast voter behavior in the wake of recent social upheaval, both the centre-right ruling party’s candidates and the traditional center left appear to be in fourth or third place.

Kenneth Bunker believes that the best outcome for Boric or Kast is in late December’s second round. That will present Chile with its most difficult choice in years. A political analystChilean media. “These candidates are much more extreme than what we’re used to and that’s opening up topics that we thought were closed in Chile,” he says. “If they pass to the second round, it’s going to be an absolute earthquake for the political system”

Gabriel Boric is who?

Boric was born in Magallanes (the southernmost part of Chile). Boric began student activism at high school. While studying law at University of Chile in 2011, he was elected to the leadership of their student union. In that year college students organized a large-scale protest against the government. Low public funding and inequity in Chile’s education system, which Boric argued “treats our rights like consumer goods.” Marches and university occupations forced the government into negotiations that eventually yielded sweeping educational reforms.

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Claudio Santana—AFP/Getty ImagesStudent leader Gabriel Boric delivers a speech during a protest to demand Chilean President Sebastian Pinera’s government to improve public education quality in Santiago, on August 28, 2012.

Boric was an independent candidate for Magallanes congress in 2013. He has since cycled through membership of several “new left” parties—most recently Social Convergence—set up to challenge Chile’s longstanding center-left and far left blocs. Boric argues that the centrists, who have had previous stints in power, were not ambitious enough to tackle the country’s deep rooted inequality. Voters have been unnerved by the support of authoritarian leftist governments in part because they are far-left. Venezuela Nicaragua.

Boric took up positions, Such as the making of privately held companiesWater rightsA public resource or common resource This is something that previous leftist governments of Chile have shied away. However, he is an average figure. He emphasizes dialogue with opposition and has become one of the biggest supporters of a Nov 2019 pact among political parties to end street violence. Boric’s campaign has focused on grassroots political participation, holding town halls to discuss policy before producing a manifesto with 13,000 suggestions

Bunker says younger Chileans appreciate Boric’s “brutal honesty”: he has for several years spoken openly About his obsessive compulsive disorder, and how he spent time in a mental hospital. This broke a taboo about Chile’s mental health. “He represents a younger, more modern, progressive voter, which makes people feel that he’s in synchronicity with the times,” Bunker says.

Chile at the crossroads

Kast presents a different vision of Chile’s social and cultural future, which is in direct opposition to the conservative forces who have ruled the country for decades. Kast spent most of his political career in a rightwing party founded in the 1980’s that strongly supported the Pinochet regime, despite its Tens of thousands of civilians have been tortured and murdered.. When Kast first ran for president in 2017—then achieving only marginal support—he It was claimed if the dictator were still alive, “he would vote for me.”

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Marcelo Hernandez—Getty ImagesChilean presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast, of the Republican Party holds a flag during the presidential campaign’s closing rally in Santiago (Chile), November 18, 2021. On November 21, Chileans will vote.

Kast has promised to restore order to the streets after the protests, which he dubbed an “anti-social explosion” and recent conflicts with indigenous activists. His manifesto offers “unconditional support” for the carabineros, the police force that watchdogs have accused of human rights abuses (Boric wants to reform and “relaunch” the carabineros).

Kast, who is an ardent Catholic, also supports repealing a 2017 law which made abortion legal only under certain circumstances. On the campaign trail, Kast suggested this country. Make a 3-meter deep ditch To keep Venezuelan migrants and refugees out, it has a northern border.

But some of the campaign’s most intense debates have centered around the economic model. Kast’s brother, Michael, was a minister in the Pinochet regime and one of the so-called Chicago Boys—a group of economists who helped design Chile’s free market formula after studying at the University of Chicago under economist Milton Friedman. Kast has pledged to defend, “resolutely and rigidly” the model, cutting taxes, regulations and public spending, in order to restore economic growth after three years of recession caused by the unrest and COVID-19. The deficit has been aggravated by higher public spending in the period of the pandemic. 11.5% The GDP for this year is slightly higher than the U.S.’s current deficit. 12.4%.

Boric however, is calling for a complete transformation. He advocates the cancellation of student debts, an increase in the minimum wage, expansion of public health care and the introduction of new taxes on the wealthy and on the mining companies that have made fortunes out of Chile’s vast copper resources.

Boric’s most controversial proposal, though, is a plan to replace Chile’s private pension system with a state one. Pinochet introduced the private pension system in 1981. Chileans are required to contribute 10% of their income to a fund that is managed by companies. This allows them to invest in local capital markets and frees up savings.

The system has been praised by multilateral organisations like the World Bank as an example of how to help emerging economies that can’t afford public retirements. However, many Chileans believe it has only provided paltry retirement benefits. Six in 10 It should be replaced by a system that is public.

Stability is in doubt

Business leaders in Chile and investors abroad are now concerned about Chile’s future. The Chile pension debate is what fueled the protests of 2019. Three times since the COVID-19 epidemic, Congress has approved Chileans being able to withdraw 10% from their pensions to pay for job losses. This could lead to a serious long-term impact on the future retirement plans of retirees, according to economists.

Boric’s vote in favour of those withdrawals have led some foreign investors to fear a potential populist slant in his economic policy. “The question is whether [increased public spending] will be done in a responsible way,” Alberto Ramos, a Goldman Sachs analystSubmittedFinancial Times “They are slowly deviating from the macro model that made Chile the poster child of fiscal responsibility.”

Boric’s critics also say the presence of the Communist Party in his electoral bloc, members of which will likely hold a significant minority of seats in a Boric-led coalition, would allow more radical voices into government, with a potential destabilizing effect for one of the most stable countries in Latin America.

But a Kast victory may be even more destabilizing for Chile, argues Claudia Heiss, head of political science at the University of Chile’s Institute of Public Affairs. Kast opposes the Chilean initiative to reform its constitution, which was initiated after protests in 2019. He says that if he doesn’t like the new draft, due to be delivered byA elected assembly Next year, before a referendum is held, he will campaign to have it rejected.

“The political system has already started taking a change in direction with the constitutional process and Kast is in conflict with that process,” Heiss says. “I think a Boric government can help do the reforms people have asked for, and make the institutional, political route viable. Without that route, we might go back to the large shocks that we saw in the social explosion.”

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