The 35-year-old former student leader is the first president since 2005 who is neither Sebastián Piñera nor Michelle Bachelet.
This Sunday, more than 4.6 million Chileans voted for Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old young lawyer from Punta Arenas (southern Chile) as their new leader. Photo: TW-gabrielboric
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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Leer en español: Los motivos por los que Gabriel Boric ganó en Chile
Chile chose. This Sunday, more than 4.6 million Chileans voted for Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old young lawyer from Punta Arenas (southern Chile) as their new leader. Boric, who, was a notable student leader and president of the Student Federation, had been serving as a deputy for the Magallanes and Antarctic Region.
La esperanza le ganó al miedo.— Gabriel Boric Font (@gabrielboric) December 20, 2021
For his part, José Antonio Kast, Boric's second-round opponent, achieved the not inconsiderable sum of 3.6 million votes, being the most voted losing candidate in history.
The keys to Boric's victory
The arrival of Gabriel Boric to power in Chile has several reasons and edges. However, it would be naive not to mention the social outbreak of 2019. At that time, the new generation of Chileans took to the streets energetically and did not give in until they achieved a new constitution, which is in the process of being drawn up.
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This was also reflected in the defeat of the traditional parties. Neither Boric nor Kast came under the umbrella of the political parties with which Piñera and Bachelet won their presidency. This empowered politicians to break out of the mold predefined by previous governments, at least for the first round. Boric also managed to seduce in a more efficient way, not only the moderate voters who voted for another candidate in the first round. The candidate of the Approve Dignity movement also managed to summon a greater number of voters who did not participate in the first round.
Although the current president-elect was initially branded as a left-wing extremist ( despite being critical of the governments in Nicaragua and Venezuela ), his counterpart was the polar opposite and generated greater fear. Kast was not only associated with the image of Bolsonaro but his father was also linked to the Nazi party. Here the fear of "becoming like Venezuela" was not enough and the electorate did not see a much more terrifying image in Kast. The support of notable figures of the Venezuelan opposition to the campaign of the deputy for the Republican Party did not help much.
The anti-Kast vote was more effective than the anti-Boric one. This is evidenced by the fact that the leftist candidate came as a second option in the first round. José Antonio Kast won the first round with 27.91% of the votes, more than 2 percentage points behind his pursuer. But it was Boric who achieved the most support in the second round with 55.87% of popular support, more than 10 points above his opponent.
What challenges will Boric face?
The president-elect will take office in March next year and must take over a divided country (like most countries today), with a deep economic and health crisis. In addition, Boric will have to attempt the democratic union of the nation in the midst of a constituent, hard work.
In addition, it will have a dispersed and divided congress. In the Constituent Assembly, the Boric movement (I Approve Dignity) only has 26 seats, out of 115. Currently, in the AD Senate, it only has 4 seats and 37 in the Chamber, being the third force. This will limit your field of maneuver and you will have to agree with many movements, which will prevent you (or make it difficult) to comply with your Government plan line by line.
Additionally, it must manage a stagnant economy and a migration crisis that has been a battle horse of the extreme right and that is reflected in xenophobic demonstrations and speeches against Colombian, Venezuelan, and Haitian migrants, among others.
Finally, Boric must build a solid government with results, since otherwise, Kast is seen as a figure with the electoral power necessary to win in 2025. Despite the rejection generated by the Republican Party candidate, Kast is today the loser politician who gets the most votes and will be able to rely on Boric's failures to turn those support into victories.