35-year-old leftist Gabriel Boric is Chile’s next president

A socialist millennial who rose to prominence in anti-government rallies has beaten a brand of the free market over Donald Trump to become Chile’s next president.

Gabriel Boric obtained 56% of the vote, against 44% for his opponent, lawmaker Jos Antonio Kast.

As Boric’s supporters gathered in downtown Santiago to celebrate, Kast posted a photo of himself on the phone with his opponent. President Sebastian Pinera called Boric to congratulate him.

“I’m going to be the president of all Chileans,” Boric said on TV with Pinera.

Boric, 35, will be Chile’s youngest president in March. He was elected to Congress in 2014 after organizing rallies for better education. Seizing the opportunity to increase social services, fight against inequalities and strengthen environmental guarantees, he pledged to “bury” the neoliberal economic model left behind by the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990 .

Last month, Kast finished two points ahead of Boric in the first round, but fell short of a majority. This forced a second round with Boric.

Boric was able to widen the gap by gaining votes in rural areas that are not associated with political extremism. For example, he beat Kast by over 20 points in the northern region of Antofagasta, where he finished third in the first round.

Kast, 55, a devout Roman Catholic and father of nine, came from the far-right periphery in 2017. He quickly climbed in the polls this time, emphasizing conservative family values ​​and exploiting the fears of the Chileans that an increase in Haitian and Venezuelan migration is fueling crime.

He’s used to targeting Chile’s LGBTQ population and supporting draconian abortion laws. He also accused incumbent President Sebastian Pinera, a conservative, of undermining the economic legacy of General Augusto Pinochet. Miguel Kast, Kast’s brother, advised Pinochet.

The two candidates have recently sought to refocus.

“I am not an extremist. … I don’t feel quite right, ”Kast said in the home stretch, despite reports that his German-born father was a member of the Nazi Party.

Boric, backed by a left-wing alliance that includes the Chilean Communist Party, has promised incremental and economically reasonable improvements.

“People on both sides vote out of fear,” said Robert Funk, a political scientist at the University of Chile. Out of fear of an authoritarian regression if Kast wins or because Boric is too young, inexperienced and aligned with communism, both camps vote.

A divided congress could temper Boric’s victory.

In addition, a newly elected convention revises the country’s constitution during Pinochet’s time. If the new charter is passed in a vote, the country’s most powerful elected institution could call for new presidential elections next year.


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