The presidency of Chile it will be defined between two radically opposite positions.
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Jose Antonio Kast, radical right, and Gabriel Boric, leftist, were this Sunday the most voted in the first round of the elections and will contest the presidency on December 19 in a polarized, uncertain ballot and in which for the first time since the return of democracy the traditional parties of center-left and center-right.
At BBC Mundo we present who the candidates are.
Jose Antonio Kast
Representative of the radical right, José Antonio Kast, 55, is the candidate of the Christian Social Front and has defended the legacy of Augusto Pinochet. This Sunday he was the most voted candidate.
The son of German parents who emigrated to Chile in 1950, the lawyer was a member of the Independent Democratic Union party and later founded the Republican Party.
With nine children and close to the Schoenstatt Catholic movement, Kast ran for La Moneda in the 2017 elections, where he obtained fourth place with 8% of the votes.
Under the slogan of establishing “order and progress,” Kast said in August this year that if the leader of the Chilean military regime were alive, he would support him at the polls.
“Pinochet would vote for me, it is evident.”
However, during the campaign he tried to soften his speech by saying that he does not support human rights violations.
In 2017, during a visit to a prison (Punta Peuco) where they remain convicted of crimes against humanity, he had said he was in favor of granting a pardon to those who have served part of their sentence and are elderly.
Although it follows many of the postulates of leaders such as Donald Trump o Jair Bolsonaro (whom he visited in Brazil), Kast is less combative than they are in public.
His style is rather calm.
It is part of the international organization Political Network Values, which defends “the protection of human life, marriage, the family and religious freedom.”
Some of the axes of his program are security, the economy and migration.
At this last point, Kast promised to create a ditch on Chile’s northern border to control irregular migration to the country.
“The ditch is one of the measures that prevents smuggling, drug trafficking, and the confrontation between the security forces and the migrants,” he defended.
Regarding the violence that is being experienced in the area of La Araucanía, in the south, the candidate is in favor of the use of undercover agents in the prosecution of terrorist crimes.
Regarding pensions, the candidate is in favor of maintaining the current individual savings system and improving pensions by postponing the retirement age.
His program aims to give the market more freedom of action and reduce as much as possible the participation of the state in the economy at a time when the social outbreak of 2019 showed that there is a desire for the state to be more involved in social policies.
In that context seeks to lower taxes and reduce public spending, trusting that stability and public order will generate more investment and greater growth for the country.
Faced with some of his controversial proposals, electoral analysts have affirmed that it may be difficult for this radical right-wing candidate to conquer the center in the face of the second presidential round, something that could be key to surpassing his contender, Gabriel Boric.
“Boric and the Communist Party want to pardon the vandals who destroy. They meet with terrorists and murderers. They want instability, close borders to trade, advance down the path of hatred,” Kast attacked his rival in the ballot.
“We do not want the route that leads us to be Venezuela and Cuba,” he added, wanting to identify Boric with the leftist projects of those countries.
“Freedom and democracy versus communism”, I leave as a slogan of what you want the second round of December 19 to be.
At 35 years old, Gabriel Boric aspires to become the youngest president in the history of Chile.
The left-wing candidate representing the Coalition Approve Dignity (Frente Amplio and Partido Comunista), entered the political arena by being part of a group of student leaders that a decade ago led the protests that shook the country demanding free education, free and quality.
Boric assured this Sunday that on December 19 a decision is made between two opposing positions
“Either we advance to an inclusive, generous Chile, more concerned with its own, or we continue in the logic of rejection, exclusion and privileges for which Chile stood up on October 25, 2019 and demanded a Constituent process” that emerged from the social outbreak of two years ago.
A critic of the center-left governments that assumed command of the country after the return of democracy, Boric began his parliamentary adventure in 2014 by becoming a deputy for the southernmost region of the country, Magallanes.
Boric was reelected with a high vote in 2017 and ended up becoming one of the leading figures during the social outbreak of 2019, seeking an agreement for an institutional solution to the crisis that later gave rise to the Constituent Convention that today is working on a proposal new Constitution for the country.
In a country traditionally led by two large blocs, the right and the center-left, Boric gained space as a third alternative more heeled to the left within the Chilean political spectrum.
“We are interested in growth, but it is not possible to grow in a country that is socially fractured,” he said.
Criticized for his lack of experience and for not having a technical team sufficiently prepared to face the challenges, the deputy reflects the aspirations of a part of the population that does not identify with the more traditional sectors.
“I am absolutely clear that stability today implies changes, changes gradually, advancing step by step so as not to lose ground. But what we cannot do is continue the same.”
His leadership was consolidated in July of this year, when, against all odds, he triumphed in the primary of the Chilean left, defeating the communist Daniel Jadue, who the polls gave as the winner.
Single and childless, Boric revealed that he has suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since childhood and has sought medical help to treat the condition.
In his program he proposes four major reforms: guaranteed universal access to health, a new pension system without the controversial Pension Fund Administrators (AFP), a free, quality, public educational system, and the creation of Chile’s first environmental government.
As the plan requires increasing tax collection, the new resources would come from sources such as a tax reform, the elimination of tax exemptions and applying a royalty mining, among other measures that would help finance the social agenda.
But his critics doubt that he is really capable of raising all the money necessary to implement his social reforms.
Something that, they say, could be even more complex in a country that is trying to recover after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
On the other hand, his alliance with the Communist Party, which generates strong rejection in a part of the electorate, is an element that can play against him in the second round.