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Presidential elections in Chile: Boric or Kast?

Chileans are getting ready for a second round of presidential voting that will take place on Sunday, Dec. 19 — an election in which two opposing ideologies…

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The ultra-right or the left? This is the question Chileans will ask themselves during Sunday's, Dec. 19, election, which must define the new president of the country

Amid one of the closest elections in the history of Chile, in which two ideologically opposed candidates are in a dead heat to reach the Casa de la Moneda, either José Kast or Gabriel Boric must, as one of their first measures after winning, try to unite a country that has been divided into two extremes and find it difficult to reach consensus.

Two days before the expected second round, Boric and Kast have redoubled their efforts and fight side-by-side to win the votes of the other candidates from the first round. Here is what you should know about the crucial choice:

Bandera de Chile

First round

After the first round, which took place on Nov. 21, right-wing José Kast won 27.91% of the total vote, followed by the leftist Gabriel Boric, who kept 25.83%. The two were far from reaching the absolute majority required by the Constitution of Chile.

With a total participation that reached 47.34%, the votes were distributed among various candidates, highlighting that those who represent the voice of the most traditional political parties in the country were left out.

Kast vs. Boric

On the one hand, there is Kast, one of the founders of the Republican Party of Chile, and a sympathizer for the legacy of the dictator Augusto Pinochet. On the other, there is Gabriel Boric from the Pacto Approve Dignity, a student leader linked to the left.

Kast, 55, served as a deputy for the Metropolitan Region between 2002 and 2018, as well as a councilor for Buin. In his first presidential run in 2017, he only obtained 7.93% of the vote.

Among his proposals to take over the presidency, the right-wing candidate has offered to build a ditch on the border to prevent migrants from entering the country and officially withdraw Chile from the UN, as well as prohibit abortion and the adoption by same-sex marriage.

Boric, for his part, is 35 years old, has been a lawyer and deputy for the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic Region since 2014. He was president of the Student Federation of the University of Chile, from where he led the 2011 student protests that demanded greater access to education.

During the social unrest of 2019, Boric was part of the "Agreement for Social Peace and the New Constitution." He is part of the left-wing Social Convergence party, but after the primary elections, he became the candidate for the Pacto Approve Dignity coalition.

Among the most striking revelations of this second round, it stands out that both Boric and Kast are not part of the traditional parties that have alternated power in recent decades, such as Michelle Bachelet's Nueva Mayoría and Chile Vamos under the current president Sebastian Piñera.

Hunting for more votes

After the Nov. 21 elections, Boric and Kast have tried to seduce those who voted for the other candidates, seeking their support for the final second round on Sunday.

The votes that are at stake on Sunday are those of Franco Parisi, of the People's Party, who obtained 12.80%; Sebastián Sichel of the Chile Vamos Pact, with 12.78%; Yasna Provoste, Christian Democratic Party, with 11.61%; Marco Enríquez-Ominami, Progressive Party of Chile, with 7.60%; and Eduardo Artés of the Patriotic Union Party, with 1.47%.

So far, after the closing of the campaign of both candidates, Parisi has not made public his support for either of the two candidates, although his party has launched criticism against Boric. On his side, Sichel announced his support for Kast, while Provoste offered his support for the left-wing candidate. In the case of Enríquez-Ominami, a critic of the right wing, he also announced his support for Boric.

Constitutional Convention

Anyone who is the new tenant of the Casa de la Moneda must respect the mandate of the plebiscite to carry out the Constitutional Convention that must reform the Political Constitution of Chile that has been in force since the Pinochet dictatorship.

The new Magna Carta, with new content that should be ready by mid-2022, seeks to reform the political system and incorporate new rights and guarantees for Chileans, which break the legitimacy crisis that caused the social conflict that erupted in 2019.

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