Chileans vote in watershed, polarized elections

Santiago, Nov 21 (EFE).- A watershed presidential election got underway in Chile Sunday as voters head out to choose a successor to Sebastián Piñera.

Polling suggests that none of the seven candidates on the ballot paper will get 50% of the votes required, meaning a run-off on December 19 is likely

The two front-runners in what is the first presidential election since the mass revolts of 2019 are the left-wing former student leader Gabriel Boric and the far-right José Antonio Kast.

The candidates embody the polarization in the South American nation.

Boric, a 35-year-old lawmaker, is running on an environmentalist and feminist ticket with pledges to boost the role of the state to resemble the welfare systems of Europe.

Kast, a 55-year-old lawyer, has promised to reduce the role of the state, lower taxes, clamp down on irregular migration, ban gay marriage and illegalize abortion.

Kenneth Bunker, director of survey company Treaquintos, told Efe that although Kast and Boric led the polls, the center-left Yasna Provoste and conservative Sebastián Sichel, a Piñera ally, could still perform strongly.

“It’s the least certain election since the return to democracy,” he said.

Whoever takes the reins of the country will have to oversee the post-pandemic recovery and implement the new constitution, drawn up in the wake of the mass protests of 2019, the worst since the end of the military dictatorship (1973-90).

Voting centers close at 6pm local time, with results expected shortly thereafter. EFE


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