Chile prepares for the ballotage

From Santiago

One week before the presidential elections in Chile, scheduled for Sunday, November 21, together with the parliamentarians and regional councilors, there is only one certainty: there will be a second round, on December 19. The atmosphere is rarefied, especially after the unexpected “truce” between the candidates after confirming on Friday last week the contagion by Covid-19 Delta variant of Gabriel Boric, of the I Approve Dignity coalition (Broad Front and Communist Party). Something that forced them to suspend activities and maintain preventive isolation. Just three days before, they had participated in a debate, organized by the University of Chile, without a mask. Even the web medium Interferencia revealed that Boric participated in the debate already with symptoms associated with the virus, something that was denied by the candidate himself and the Hospital Clinico de la U. de Chile, to which the media replied by posting part of the Epivigila file, the official surveillance and monitoring system for Covid, which indicates that the first consultation for the symptoms of the virus had been made on October 31. A complaint that, perhaps because it involves the doubt about whether consulting symptoms does not necessarily involve a virus, the privacy of medical records and especially the advancement of the electoral process, was deflated.

Business Exam

On Thursday, November 11, the presidential candidates participated in ENADE 2021, a traditional business meeting, interpreted as the “test” that the authentic owners of Chile take to the applicants for La Moneda. Predictably the ruling party Sebastian Sichel (Chile Podemos) and the extreme right Jose Antonio Kast (Republican Party) simply repeated their speech in favor of the free market and that the state does not intervene too much. Those who had to somehow soften their ideas were the opponents, starting with Boric who pointed out that his coalition wants “a dialogue-based government that builds solid social bases so that better and more companies can grow, and also form a state institutionality. modern, edifice, that does not hinder development but enhances it ”. Marco Enriquez-Ominami (Progressive Party of Chile) assured the hosts that they have “experience, rebellion and desire” to reach agreements, but they also have to declare “peace” to nature, teachers, women and also to the businessmen themselves. At the same time Yasna Provoste (Democracia Cristiana) who pointed out that only with “social peace” would there be economic growth and that changes should be “responsible” and “financed.” The latter represents the Constituent Unit coalition, which includes the parties of the old Concertación (Socialists, Democrats, Radicals) that governed Chile for two decades after recovering democracy in 1990 and that apparently has not managed to conquer the electorate. The only absent were Eduardo Arts of the ultra-left coalition Unión Patriótica and the economist Franco Parisi (People’s Party), a candidate with a libertarian profile close to Javier Milei, who has campaigned from the US and has just revealed that he suffers from Covid-19. A vitally important fact: it was revealed in September that he has an arrest warrant for not paying alimony, which would imply being arrested upon arrival in the country.

The uncertainty of the polls

Even the polls do not seem to be reliable indicators: the two favorites that indicated for the primaries of last July lost, both on the right with Joaquin Lavin and the left with the Daniel Jadue. Also, recently serious methodological flaws have been revealed in the Cadem or Casen, favorites of the media and the candidates themselves, whose former workers revealed that they are often filled in by the pollsters themselves or are remotely directed to favor certain candidates, evidently linked to the business elite.

Perhaps it would explain, in part, the precipitous fall in numbers of the “independent” and former minister of Sebastian Piñera (in the process of impeachment in Congress that is reviewed on Monday in the Senate), Sebastian Sichel, winner of Lavín who had the support of the president himself and the ruling party (UDI, RN and Evópoli). Emboldened by his triumph, he began to commit strategic blunders such as not wanting to ally himself too much with politicians in that sector and even threaten them not to support the candidates for deputies or senators if they approved the fourth withdrawal of the Administrators of pension funds (AFP), which is still being discussed in Congress. The withdrawals of this money, which Chileans since 1980 are obliged to impose – with the exception of the armed forces – in companies that invest them abroad, filling themselves with lucrative profits, has been one of the ways in which workers have been able to bearr the crisis caused by Covid-19 and the limited social assistance from the Piñera government. And Sichel took the defense of the AFPs personally.

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In less than two months he was out-polled by Kast of the Republican Party and the conservative Social Christian Front coalition, a candidate who, in the far-right tradition of Jair bolsonaro and Donald trump, has a populist discourse against migrants, in favor of belittling the state and defender of the Pinochet dictatorship, among other savagery. Thus, in the latest polls, as of Friday, November 5, Kast appears leading the preferences. In Activa Research’s Electoral Citizen Pulse marks 21.7 percent versus Boric’s 17.7; in Cadem the difference is 25 compared to 19, in Citizen Panel-UDD it is 25 and 22 and in Feedback it is 36 and 30. Only in the latter is Sichel occupying a third place (11 percent), remaining in the rest between fourth and fifth option, always down from Provoste. Only at Criteria, Boric and Kast would tie with 25 percent, followed by Provoste (10). By law the results of the polls can no longer be disseminated publicly, only privately.

The last round

Next monday will be the last television debate and there are already nerves on the part of all the candidates. Boric’s team is attentive to an old complaint of sexual harassment that has surfaced on the internet, in his time as a student leader, which would clash with his story as a feminist candidate. But also due to a controversial statement by its ally the CP – which did not have the support of all its militancy – which supported the reelection of Daniel Ortega In Nicaragua. A flank that will possibly be used by its opponents in the same way as the protests in Cuba they were used to pressure Jadue when he was competing in the primaries. “In our government, the commitment to democracy and human rights will be total, without support of any kind for dictatorships and autocracies, annoy whoever bothers,” Boric came out to defend himself.

On the other hand, Kast, has been very careful in his interventions. Within their command they recognize that there is a lot of surprise and distrust before their boom in the polls. Perhaps because the initial idea of ​​his candidacy was to position his party and hopefully have deputies in Congress. That also explains his program where, among promises of trenches to prevent foreigners from entering the country or the closure of the National Institute of Human RightsThere is an economic neglect since by promising to lower tax collection, when landing it, it would bankrupt the Treasury and double the public debt. These are topics that will most likely dominate the agenda for next week and the second round.


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