Chile wraps up presidential campaigning ahead of polarized election

Santiago, Nov 18 (EFE).- Chile’s presidential candidates on Thursday wrapped up their campaigns ahead of the weekend’s election, the most crucial and polarized in the country’s recent history.

In the Valparaíso region, on the coast 120 kilometers west of the capital, 35-year-old former student leader and leftist candidate Gabriel Boric participated in multiple events in which he emphasized social rights.

“It is important that we change [in order] to move forward. Building a State that guarantees rights, dignity and equality is the only way to have stability,” he said during his campaign closer.

“While other candidates promise to close the Ministry of Women and the NHRI (National Human Rights Institution) (…) and discriminate against single women, we have come to include, embrace and build a State that cares and does not abandon,” added Boric.

Meanwhile, his far-right conservative opponent José Antonio Kast, 55, who closed his electoral campaign in the affluent Las Condes neighborhood in Santiago, highlighted the “need” to “recover Chile.”

“There are recipes for recovering the economy, but not for recovering freedom when the left takes power. We are never going to surrender to the intolerance of the left again,” he said.

“We want to regain the accent on love for Chile, regain our traditions (…) God, the homeland is what inspires us, freedom,” said the Republican Party candidate, who holds a narrow lead over Boric in the polls.

With the extreme right on the rise, the drafting of a new constitution underway, pressing inflation after the pandemic and a social and institutional crisis that has not stopped since 2019, experts agree that these are the most crucial elections in the recent history of the South American country.

The polls predict that none of the seven candidates will prevail in the first round, in which 50 percent of the vote is needed to win, and that Boric and Kast will head for a runoff on Dec. 19.

The question is whether the favorites will be able to convince the masses of undecided voters and if they will be able to reverse the high abstention rate.

Since the vote is voluntary, no presidential election has exceeded a 50 percent turnout rate, a threshold that was only reached in the plebiscite for a new constitution. EFE


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