© Reuters. Electoral officials count votes for presidential election, in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021. REUTERS / Pablo Sanhueza
Authors Anthony Esposito and Natalia A. Ramos Miranda
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean leftist Gabriel Boric won the country’s second round of presidential elections on Sunday, concluding a major recovery for the country’s progressive left, which has been on the rise since widespread protests rocked the Andean country two years ago.
In downtown Santiago, supporters chanted, hugged and waved flags with Boric’s face, as well as rainbow flags from LGBT groups that supported his policy of social inclusion, as well as plans to revise Chile’s market-oriented economic model.
“We did it!” Paola Fernandez, 39, said in tears embracing her daughter, adding that she was happy with Boric’s progressive policy.
With more than 99% of the ballots counted, Boric, 35, who leads a broad left-wing coalition, had 55.86% of the vote, compared to 44.14% for far-right rival Jose Antonio Cast, who conceded defeat.
I just talked to @gabrielboric and congratulated him on his great success, Kast said on Twitter (NYSE :). “As of today, he is the elected president of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive cooperation. Chile is always first.”
The protests in 2019 shone the spotlight on economic inequality and spurred an official revision of the constitution.
“I will be the president of all Chileans,” Boric told center-right president Sebastian Piner, who will step down in March.
‘I WANT THE RIGHT CHANGE’
Lucrecia Cornejo, 72, a seamstress, backed Boric’s promise to fix inequalities in education, pensions and health care.
I want equality, not to be as they call us, ‘broken’, more justice in education, health and wages, she said. – I want a real change.
The elections were the largest divisions in the country in decades, and the two candidates offered markedly different visions of the future. Kast https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/chiles-bolsonaro-hard-right-kast-rises-with-frank-talk-crime-focus-2021-11-16, 55, led by law-i -red campaign and was a defender of former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Often compared to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonar and the hero of Chile’s “wrong law”, Cast said “two models for the nation” clashed.
Both candidates were outside the centrist political mainstream that has ruled Chile since its return to democracy in 1990 after Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Both have moderated their positions in recent weeks to win over centrist voters.
Miguel Angel Lopez, a professor at the University of Chile, said Boric is facing a difficult period ahead and will have to negotiate with the opposition because of a divided Congress in which neither side has a majority.
“Now he has to give a strong speech in which he tries to break the uncertainty. A lot will depend on that and on his appointments and his decisions. International investors will be very careful about that.”
Boric’s supporters say they will reconsider the country’s economic model, which dates back to Pinochet. He is credited with driving economic growth, but striking for creating sharp divisions between rich and poor.
“We can close the chapter on a dark, harmful and offensive model that has affected a small minority,” said businessman Jorge Valdivia, 54, a supporter of Boric.
Boric, who made a name for himself in 2011’s leading student protest to demand better and more affordable education, wrote in an open letter Saturday that his government would make the changes Chileans demanded in the 2019 social uprisings.
These protests, which lasted for months and became violent from time to time, sparked an official process of recasting the decade-old Chilean constitution, a text that will face a referendum next year.
“(That means) having a real social security system that leaves no one behind, ending the hateful gap between health care for the rich and health care for the poor, advancing without hesitation in freedoms and rights for women,” Boric wrote.
EXPLANATION – ‘Communism against fascism?’ Chile is preparing for a polarized second round of presidential elections
ANALYSIS – In polarized elections in Chile, sharp divisions offer investors a silver line
FACTBOX-Chilean presidential candidates on mining, pensions and LGBT rights
Borić v. Kasta https://tmsnrt.rs/3ytn6VG
Boric vs Cast (Interactive version) https://tmsnrt.rs/3m9CzVO