Chileans will vote between a leftist and an extreme rightist

Chileans will face the closest and most polarized presidential election in recent years on Sunday, in which they will have to choose between the leftist Gabriel Boric and the far right José Antonio Kast. Whoever wins will be the first president who does not belong to a traditional party and whose parliamentary bloc will be the smallest since the return of democracy in 1990.

In Sunday’s ballot, 15 million people are entitled to vote but the vote is voluntary and abstentionism is close to 50%, which suggests a very narrow result, according to coincident forecasts. That led the commandos of both candidates to look for more proxies to monitor the vote count.

Kast, with a speech that appeals to order and security, won the first round on November 21 with 27.9% of the vote, followed by Boric, who obtained 25.8% of the vote. Kast performed better in popular areas and swept rural areas, while Boric prevailed among young people and women, especially in urban areas near greater Santiago.

In their last remarks at the close of their electoral campaigns, both urged their followers to participate in Sunday’s election.

“We are going to defend the rights that you (women) have achieved together,” said Boric. After the first round, the candidate stopped addressing his followers as “colleagues” and replaced him with “Chileans.”

“We are going to overcome fear, we are going to take back our country,” said Kast, who was introduced by his eldest daughter, Josefina. The candidate arrived accompanied by his wife and children and encouraged his supporters by saying “today we are tied but I have great news for you, on Sunday we will win.”

Both modified and softened their programs – more Kast than Boric – in search of the center vote that eluded them in the first round. Kast rejected his idea of ​​merging the Ministry of Women and repealing abortion on three grounds, while Boric delved into public security issues in his project, which he addressed very briefly at the beginning, unlike his adversary.

“Kast is not only a candidate from the upper class, but he has roots in the popular class and that makes him dangerous,” political analyst Genaro Arriagada told The Associated Press. She added that “Boric’s vote is ideologically stronger, it is a younger world and where the majority of women are with him.”

Most of the voters who go to the polls on Sunday, “vote more by instincts and affinities … I don’t know how much they can know about the candidate’s program,” Carla Rivera, historian and analyst, told AP.

Benjamín Gálvez, a 25-year-old journalist and member of the LGTBIQ + community, told AP that “if Kast wins, it will mean a setback and it will divide us.” He recalled that he cried after the first round in which Boric finished second, so the next day he decided to campaign for the leftist candidate.

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From the other extreme, the 62-year-old housewife María Riquelme pointed out that “for me the most important thing is that crime, looting and terrorism stop. I am confident that Kast can improve several things. “

On what drives voters in this polarized election, political analyst Marcelo Mella told AP that “the main drive that mobilizes people … is not so much the virtues of the candidate, but the fear that the other will come out.” .

Boric, a 35-year-old law graduate, went from being a university leader to a deputy and represents Approve Dignity, a bloc between the leftist Frente Amplio and the Communist Party. Kast, 55, an admirer of the military dictatorship from 1973 to 1990, was a four-time deputy and competes for the Christian Social Front, an alliance of two conservative collectives.

The elections take place two years after a revolt that resulted in an explosion of social demands and a rejection of inequalities, in a country where Chileans who have money to pay for them receive better health and education. The demands persist and periodically emerge strongly.

“Next year is difficult, either of the two candidates who is elected is going to have to dance with the ugly woman. A huge economic readjustment is coming, “said Rivera.

Chile recovered economic activity prior to the pandemic and this year it will grow between 11.5% and 12% as a result of strong private consumption fueled by state subsidies and withdrawals from part of the pension funds. Growth in 2022 is estimated to be around 2%.

Mario Marcel, president of the Central Bank, said this week that “the strong activity driven by consumption is” not sustainable over time “, which he blamed mainly for the rise in inflation close to 7% per year, the highest previous inflation in 2005 , with 4.6%.

From the beginning of next year, some 16 million people will stop receiving an emergency family income and there will be no withdrawals from the retirement funds that some 10 million Chileans turned in three times in the last year and a half. In short, they will go back to living with less and with an inflation that they did not remember.

In Chile, the dissemination of polls 15 days before the elections is prohibited and those that were carried out before gave Boric as a favorite by several points, but analysts agree that Sunday’s result will be very narrow.

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