Chile elected Socialist candidate Gabriel Boric as youngest president

 Gabriel Boric defeated neoliberal Pinochet supporter Jose Antonio Kast in the presidential elections

Chile has elected a 35 years old former student leader and a socialist Gabriel Boric as a new president with more than 56% of the vote. He became prominent figure during the anti-government protest movement. Chile becomes another country which choose a socialist president and rejected a neoliberal pro free market candidate.  

He has defeated a neoliberal pro- free market Pinochet admirer extreme right wing José Antonio Kast who bagged 44% of the votes. Kast has conceded the defeat and congratulated Boric on his historic victory. Kast, who has a history of defending Chile's past military dictatorship, finished ahead in the first round of voting last month but failed to secure a majority of votes. 

Kast, 55, a devout Roman Catholic and father of nine, emerged from the far right fringe after having won less than 8% of the vote in 2017. He rose steadily in the polls this time with a divisive discourse emphasizing conservative family values and playing on Chileans’ fears that a surge in migration from Haiti and Venezuela  is driving crime.

The supporters of leftist Boric gathered in downtown Santiago to celebrate the victory. Boric, 35, will become Chile’s youngest modern president when he takes office in March. He was among several activists elected to Congress in 2014 after leading protests for higher quality education.  

On the stump, he vowed to “bury” the neoliberal economic model left by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship and raise taxes on the “super rich” to expand social services, fight inequality and boost protections of the environment.

Boric, who is backed by a coalition of leftist parties that includes Chile’s Communist Party, brought more centrist advisers onto his team and promised that any changes would be gradual and fiscally responsible.

Boric was able to reverse the difference by a larger margin than even pre-election opinion polls forecast by expanding beyond his base in the capital, Santiago, and attracting voters in rural areas who don’t side with political extremes. For example, in the northern region of Antofagasta, where he finished third in the first round of voting, he trounced Kast by almost 20 points.

In addition, the political rules could soon change because a newly elected convention is rewriting the country’s Pinochet-era constitution. The convention, the nation’s most powerful elected institution could in theory call for new presidential elections when it concludes its work next year and if the new charter is ratified in a plebiscite.

                                                                           Election Cell

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