SANTIAGO (AP) – An ultra-rightist candidate and a leftist candidate supported by the Communist Party would compete for the presidency of Chile in a ballot in December, after on Sunday neither seemed to have obtained the necessary votes to win in the first round.
It is the first time since the recovery of democracy in 1990 that the presidential candidates with the highest preferences of the electorate are farther from the center, which has generated political and economic unrest.
With 70% of the votes counted, José Antonio Kast —55 years old, a far-right lawyer in favor of the military dictatorship (1973-1990 )— led with 28% of the votes and was followed by the leftist Gabriel Boric —35 years old, a former student leader. supported by the communists – with 25%.
Of the seven candidates running to replace President Sebastián Piñera, none would obtain half plus one of the votes necessary to win on Sunday, which would lead the two with the most votes to a second round on December 19. In this scenario, whoever has the most votes would win.
After the first results were published after the polls closed, Sebastián Sichel, an independent who represents the center-right ruling party and who had 12% of the preferences, said that “I have programmatic differences (with Kast), which I am willing to to converse. I don’t want the extreme left to win. ” Yasna Provoste, the candidate of the center-left and who during the campaign was very critical of Boric’s program, said that she will wait for “what is she going to offer the country”, unlike Álvaro Elizalde, president of the Socialist Party that was part of the Provoste pact. , who urged support for the former university leader.
Among Chileans, the uncertainty was palpable at the close of the vote. Sergio Exposito, 61, a chemical engineer, told The Associated Press that “extremes are bad. I think people are going to vote in conscience and the majority do not like extremes ”, while Antonia Alegría, 18, a biochemistry student, said that she decided to vote on Sunday because“ I am afraid of the advance of the extreme right and that has been a factor to come to vote ”.
If the polls of previous days were correct, the succession of the center-right president Sebastián Piñera would be disputed between José Antonio Kast and Gabriel Boric. The first, 55, is an admirer of the military dictatorship (1973-1990) who was a four-time deputy for an official conservative party. The second, 35, a law graduate, is a former leader of the 2011 student protests.
Kast – who competes for the Christian Social Front, a pact between two conservative parties – had to explain during his electoral campaign some of his controversial government proposals, such as the one that seeks to repeal the abortion law on three grounds, in force four years ago, and dig a ditch on the border to prevent the arrival of immigrants. “The ditch is for border control,” he explained, and said that undocumented immigrants are going to be invited to leave or else, “at some point we are going to put transport for them,” so that they return to their country of origin.
The far-rightist – who recently said he was not an “extreme” candidate – promises to restore public order, reduce the state by laying off 20,000 employees and lower taxes by up to $ 8,800 million, including going down from 19% to 17%. % the value added tax, the one that collects the most; from 27% to 17% the taxes on companies; zero tax for small businesses and tax breaks for those who earn between $ 400 and $ 800 a month.
For his part, Boric, who represents Approve Dignity, an alliance between the leftist Frente Amplio and the Communist Party, proposes a tax reform to collect 8 points of GDP, with more taxes on the super-rich, for monthly incomes above 5,400 dollars, “green taxes” and raising taxes on large copper mining, among others, as well as eliminating the Pension Fund Administrators (AFP), which are widely criticized because they grant low pensions.
The youngest of the seven candidates also proposed creating a Universal Health Fund to prevent Chile from continuing to have two types of health, one of which discriminates based on income. It also promotes an economic reactivation that includes a subsidy for female employment and the defense of the rights of the LGBTIAQ + population. It also proposes creating a 1% job quota in public and private companies for transgender people.
Whatever the new president, the economic outlook for 2022 will be complex. Chile would grow by 11.5% in 2021 to fall to around 2% the next, and would continue with inflation – due to external and internal factors – that would close the year close to 6%, something not seen in 13 years by the Chileans, who will no longer have the 50,000 million dollars that they turned from their pension funds or the state subsidies due to the pandemic, which unleashed consumption.
The electoral roll is made up of 15 of the 19 million people and, as on other occasions, Chileans living abroad were able to vote.