Leftist millennial wins election as Chile's next president

Boric

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A leftist millennial who rose to prominence during anti-government protests was elected Chile’s next president Sunday after a bruising campaign against a free-market firebrand likened to Donald Trump.

With almost 99% of polling stations reporting, Gabriel Boric won 56% of the votes, compared to 44% for his opponent, lawmaker José Antonio Kast.

In a model of civility that broke from the polarizing rhetoric of the campaign, Kast immediately recognized defeat, tweeting a photo of himself on the phone with his opponent congratulating him on his “grand triumph.” Meanwhile outgoing President Sebastían Piñera — a conservative billionaire — held a video conference with Boric to offer his government’s full support during the three-month transition.

“I am going to be the president of all Chileans,” Boric said in the brief televised appearance with Piñera.

Boric’s victory is likely to be felt throughout Latin America, where ideological divisions have been on the rise amid the coronavirus pandemic, which reversed a decade of economic gains, exposed long-standing deficiencies in health care and deepened inequality.

At 35, Boric will become Chile’s youngest modern president when he takes office in March and only the second millennial to lead in Latin America, after El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele.

He was among several activists elected to Congress in 2014 after leading protests for higher quality education. On the stump, he vowed to “bury” the neoliberal economic model left by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship and raise taxes on the “super rich” to expand social services, fight inequality and boost environmental protections.

Kast, who has a history of defending Chile’s past military dictatorship, finished ahead of Boric by two points in the first round of voting last month but failed to secure a majority of votes. That set up a head-to-head runoff against Boric.

An additional 1.2 million Chileans cast ballots Sunday compared to the first round, raising turnout to 55%, the highest since voting stopped being mandatory in 2012.

On both sides, people are voting out of fear,” Robert Funk, a political scientist at the University of Chile, said before the vote count.

“Neither side is particularly enthused with their candidate but they are voting out of fear that, if Kast wins, there will an authoritarian regression or because they fear Boric is too young, inexperienced and aligned with the communists.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Recommended for you

(1) comment

Judd Grossman

Oh, oh.

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.
.
The News&Guide welcomes comments from our paid subscribers. Tell us what you think. Thanks for engaging in the conversation!

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.