This story originally appeared in Common Dreams on Dec. 19, 2021. It is shared here with permission under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license.
Gabriel Boric defeats José Antonio Kast – 56% to 44%.
The Associated Press is reporting:
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.
Kast recognized defeat and called his opponent to congratulate him on his “grand triumph” as supporters of Boric gathered in downtown Santiago to celebrate.
Chile chose Sunday between two presidential candidates offering starkly contrasting visions for their future—a far-right fascist and a Democratic Socialist candidate to lead the country through constitutional changes amid a widespread clamor for social reform.
Polls closed at 6:00PM (2100 GMT) after ten hours of voting in 95 degrees Fahrenheit heat, with voter turnout higher than the 47% who turned out for the first election round last month.
The country of 19 million people fears mass protests in response to the outcome of the neck-and-neck race between the son of a Nazi, ultra-conservative Jose Antonio Kast, 55, and former student activist Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old single, tattooed millennial.
Common Dreams reported last month:
The two candidates could hardly be more different. Kast, a 55-year-old former congressman and supporter of deceased military dictator Augusto Pinochet—who forcibly imposed neoliberal reforms after deposing democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende in a bloody U.S.-backed coup on September 11, 1973—has drawn comparisons to other right-wing authoritarians, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Throughout his reactionary campaign, Kast, a Catholic opponent of abortion and marriage equality, has vowed to crack down on crime and migration, calling for the creation of a vast ditch to deter would-be immigrants.
Congressman Boric, on the other hand, rose to prominence as a key leader, alongside fellow lawmakers Camila Vallejo and Giorgio Jackson, of the 2011 student movement for free, quality public higher education.
The 35-year-old progressive has advocated for recovery from the coronavirus crisis that curbs inequality and environmental degradation, with a focus on expanding and improving the Chilean welfare state—underdeveloped and highly privatized since the Pinochet-era interventions of the Chicago Boys, a group of market fundamentalist economists trained by Milton Friedman and others.
…David Adler, general coordinator of Progressive International, which sent delegates to Chile to observe the election, warned that Kast’s supporters—taking a page out of “the new authoritarian playbook” deployed by Trump and Bolsonaro—have preemptively attacked Chile’s electoral service in an effort “to sow distrust in democratic institutions and pave the way for false claims of fraud” if Boric wins next month.
Voters around the country complained Sunday that there was a serious shortage of public transportation to take them to their polling stations.
Videos circulating on social media showed long lines at bus stops – in brutal heat – as well as parking lots full of parked buses.
Using social networks to make themselves heard on Sunday morning, Chileans denounced that businessmen are prompting a shortage of transport services in Santiago City to sabotage an election in which the leftist presidential candidate Gabriel Boric is the favorite to defeat the far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast.
The absence of transportation occurs on a day with temperatures above 96.8°F and mainly affects low-income people who are walking long distances to get to their polling stations. People blame President Sebastian Piñera’s administration for being an accomplice in this attempt to prevent citizens from voting en masse against the neoliberal candidate Kast.
“The government chose the worst path: it boycotts public transport services so that voters from poor neighborhoods do not reach the polling stations,” citizen Pedro Calama tweeted, commenting that the maneuver will only manage to widen the favorable vote to Boric.