Home LATEST NEWS Three questions about the elections in Chile

Three questions about the elections in Chile

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1. Who are the candidates?

José Antonio Kast, 55, emphasizes law and order. Nostalgic for the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile between 1974 and 1990 (and claimed more than 40,000 victims), he promises to fight crime and immigration.

Mr. Kast is in front of a microphone with a sign language translator.

Far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast addresses his supporters at a rally in Santiago on December 7, 2021.

Photo: Getty Images / JAVIER TORRES

Father of nine children, he is opposed to abortion and in favor of amnesty for soldiers convicted of crimes committed under the dictatorship.

In economics, Mr. Kast proposes to maintain the ultraliberal model set up by General Pinochet. He wants to cut public spending, lower taxes, liberalize financial markets and push back the retirement age.

For his part, Gabriel Boric became known for his role in the student struggles of 2010-2011. The 35-year-old would become, if elected, the youngest president in the country’s history. He is a signatory of the agreement which allowed the organization of a referendum on the drafting of a new Constitution, after the 2019 demonstrations.

Its program plans to set up a European-style welfare state, fight against social inequalities, increase public spending, and reform health, pensions, education and taxation.

Gabriel Boric raises his arm.

Gabriel Boric, candidate for the left-wing Apruebo Dignidad coalition, greets his supporters in Santiago on December 11, 2021.

Photo: Getty Images / JAVIER TORRES

The two candidates come from the extremes of the traditional center-right or center-left coalitions that have governed Chile since the end of the dictatorship, underlines Kenneth Bunker, founder and director of the electoral analysis site Tresquintos, and associate researcher at the Electoral Political Observatory. of Diego Portales University, in Santiago.

If they want to win the election, they have to go looking for voters in the center, who picked other candidates in the first round, the analyst believes.

Whoever wins the election is the one who manages to capture those votes in the best possible way.

A quote from Kenneth Bunker, founder and director of the electoral analysis site Tresquintos

Gabriel Boric has thus registered in the center left by seeking the support of moderate figures, such as ex-presidents Michelle Bachelet and Ricardo Lagos.

José Antonio Kast, for his part, is rather in the damage control, believes Mr. Bunker. He had to back down on certain proposals considered more radical, such as that of withdrawing Chile from theUnited Nations Organization, eliminate the Ministry of Women or repeal the law which decriminalizes abortion in certain very specific cases.

Pamela Figueroa, professor at the University of Santiago, remarks that they used very different strategies to convince voters: while Gabriel Boric recruited civil society leaders in different regions of the country for his campaign, José Antonio Kast focused on its public order and safety message on social media.

A diary on which is written: Kast 27.97%, Boric 25.7%.

The victory, in the first round, of the two extreme candidates caused surprise in Chile.

Photo: Getty Images / ERNESTO BENAVIDES

Each of them won the support of the other defeated left and right candidates, respectively.

This support is very important, because it will be difficult to mobilize new voters for the second round, argues Kenneth Bunker, who expects a turnout of less than 50%, as in the first round.

2. Will the Chileans be there?

Most Chileans may not have voted for either of these two candidates, but they now find themselves facing two extremes. So why this apparent lack of interest?

There is no debate of ideas, but rather smearing and attempts to taint [la crédibilité] of the competitor, he believes.

This is the reflection of a lack of political projects, like what we are experiencing elsewhere in the world. Almost everywhere, traditional political parties are being jostled by populist options on the left or the right, which do not necessarily offer a clear political program, but make a lot of noise, notes Mr. Mella.

Where Mr Kast has scored, and part of the reason for his success, is that he has pinpointed two major issues the government has so far ignored: immigration and insecurity. .

In recent years, Chile has received a significant number of immigrants who have crossed borders irregularly. In 2021 alone, it is estimated that around 25,000 people, the vast majority of whom are from Venezuela, entered the country.

Families drag suitcases in front of a police van.

Chilean police intercept migrants at the border with Peru on November 22, 2021.

Photo: Getty Images / John Moore

This wave of immigrants is a real concern for the poorest Chileans who, in the context of the post-pandemic economic crisis, are struggling to make ends meet.

Kast [qui souhaite construire des fossés à la frontière pour empêcher les migrants de passer] comes to seek the electorate of the lower middle classes “,” text “:” The anti-immigration speech of Mr Kast [qui souhaite construire des fossés à la frontière pour empêcher les migrants de passer] comes to seek the electorate of the lower middle classes “}}”>Mr. Kast’s anti-immigration speech [qui souhaite construire des fossés à la frontière pour empêcher les migrants de passer] comes to seek the electorate of the lower middle classes, notes Kenneth Bunker.

Regarding insecurity, this is a problem that has increased with the pandemic, believes Paloma Figueroa. We began to perceive a presence of organized crime and drug trafficking that we were not aware of before, she believes. This added to the violence linked to the 2019 protests, creating a feeling of insecurity.

In addition, the conflict with Mapuche communities in the south of the country demanding greater autonomy has recently escalated, and the government has decided to send the army there.

All this gives Chileans the impression that the state is not in control, with regard to both immigration in the north, violence in urban areas or in the south of the country, economic problems and inflation. , note analysts.

3. What to expect on Sunday?

Masked pedestrians walk past the graffiti.

A poster that reads “Fight against fascism” depicts José Antonio Kast in Nazi uniform.

Photo: Getty Images / MARTIN BERNETTI

The latest polls show the two candidates neck and neck, with a very small lead for Gabriel Boric. Results are uncertain, either of the two could win, says Kenneth Bunker. The researcher believes the candidate on the left has a slight advantage thanks to political and social momentum following the vote for the Constituent Assembly.

However, a swing back is also possible, which would give the victory to the right-wing candidate.

In either case, the next president will have to come to terms with a divided Congress, since in the legislative elections which took place at the same time as the first round, on November 15, the left and the right each obtained half seats.

This is a good thing, believes Marcelo Mella, since, whoever the elected president is, he will have to govern in the center and build agreements that will go beyond the political coalition that supports it. We will therefore be far, in practice, from more radical political discourse of the campaign.

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