– Two years after the social uprising, Chileans elect their president
Fifteen million Chileans will be called to the polls on Sunday to elect Sebastian Piñera’s successor.
Two years after an unprecedented social uprising against social inequalities and in the process of drafting a new constitution, a dubious Chile goes to the polls on Sunday in a highly indecisive presidential election.
Fifteen million Chileans are urged to nominate the successor to Conservative President Sebastian Piñera, 71, out of seven candidates, who after two terms will not stand for re-election and leaves power with a low popularity (12%). Among the two favorites in recent polls, credited with about a quarter of the vote intentions, are two candidates placed at the extremes of the political landscape and outside the right-wing and center-left coalitions that have ruled the country since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship ( 1973-1990).
On the one hand, Gabriel Boric, 35, former student leader and candidate of the left-wing coalition “Apruebo dignidad”, which includes especially the Communists; on the other hand, José Antonio Kast, a 55-year-old lawyer and leader of the right-wing Republican Party, who is surfing the unpopularity of the outgoing government.
A large attendance is expected
“Those who have never been favorites now appear as favorites,” said AFP Raul Elgueta, a political scientist at the University of Santiago. “These are the last choices in the old cycle and they could have a different result than what we have had” so far, the academic adds.
Just behind the two favorites are two former ministers, the Christian Democrat (center-left) Yasna Provoste, 51, and the right-wing liberal, Sebastian Sichel, 44. But the poor reliability of the polls demonstrated in recent polls bans them for two weeks before the election, combined with a high proportion of unresolved and an increase in Covid-19 cases, makes it difficult to predict who will qualify for the second round. of December 19th.
Another unknown is the participation of young people, heavily mobilized on the streets since the uprising in late 2019 for more social justice, but who regularly express their lack of interest in the candidates’ proposals. According to a survey by the National Youth Institute, 77% of young people will “likely” or “probably” vote on Sunday.
A “difficult period”
This particularly open vote comes just two years after an unprecedented social crisis in the South American country to demand a fairer society after decades of ultraliberal policies. Gabriel Boric could benefit from the aspirations of many Chileans for greater social equality, a reform of the private pension system and an increased presence of the state in the health and education sector.
“It is extremely important (…) to build a state that guarantees rights, dignity and equality, the only way to achieve stability,” the youngest presidential candidate in Chile’s history argued on Friday. , during his last meeting.
But analysts have also observed a recent rise of the far right in the face of violent actions by the most radical protesters and driven by growing voter concerns about illegal immigration and crime. Especially since the pandemic has increased unemployment, increased debt and inflation is now around 6%, a news in the country.
Risks of new “social conflict”
‘Two models of society collide. The one we represent, of freedom and justice, and (…) a country that we do not want and that would fall into chaos, hunger and violence “, José Antonio Kast declared, at the end of his campaign, to his wife. and eight of his nine children.
Whoever “whoever is elected president will face a difficult period”, predicts Claudia Heiss, professor of political science at the University of Chile, and stresses the risk of “social conflict” when the aid that has contributed to to support the economy during the pandemic will end.
Another uncertainty is the Constitution, which will emerge from the work begun by the Constituent Assembly in June. The text, which could revise the powers of the president and parliament, will be presented to the Chileans in a referendum in the coming parliamentary term. On Sunday, Chileans will also renew their 155 deputies, 27 of the 43 senators and regional councils. Polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The results are expected in the evening.
Have you found an error? Tell us that.