Leftist Boric wins Chile’s presidential runoff with over 55 pct. of votes

Santiago, Dec 19 (EFE).- With the votes of more than 92 percent of the precincts counted, young leftist lawmaker Gabriel Boric, the standard bearer for the Broad Front and the Communist Party, on Sunday won Chile’s presidential runoff with 55.7 percent of the votes.

“I will be the president of Chile for all Chileans. I will not govern just within four walls,” said Boric during a televised telephone call with the outgoing president, conservative Sebastian Piñera.

His rival, ultra-rightist attorney Jose Antonio Kast, obtained just 44.27 percent of the votes, thus handing Boric one of the largest percentage wins in Chile’s recent history.

Kast, who won the first-round election by 2 percentage points, acknowledged his defeat by the former student leader with a little over half the precincts counted.

In March 2022, Boric will thus become the youngest president in Chile’s recent history.

“I have just spoken with Gabriel Boric and I congratulated him for his great triumph. From today onwards, he is the president-elect of Chile and he deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration. Chile always comes first,” Kast wrote on his Twitter account.

A 35-year-old lawmaker and former student leader, Boric defines himself as an ecologist, feminist and regionalist who wants to expand the role of the state to create a political-social-economic model similar to that of most nations in Europe.

He will become the most left-leaning president since the government of the deposed Salvador Allende, who was overthrown by Gen. Augusto Pinochet in 1973, and the first leader not to come from either of the two big political blocs that have alternated in power since the country returned to democracy in 1990.

“I’m happy because I’ve been on the Plaza Dignidad since Oct. 18 (the day on which the 2019 wave of protests erupted) and I was very scared of the extreme right. I’m happy because democracy won,” university student Barbara Gomez told EFE at the door of the hotel where the president-elect’s command headquarters had been established.

The same joy was evident among Boric’s supporters on the streets, and Ignacio Valdes, 34, told EFE that “Chile has said ‘no’ to fascism.”

Experts had said that the difference in votes between the two candidates was going to be very close and would depend on voter participation, which in the first electoral round on Nov. 21 barely reached 50 percent of registered voters.

According to official figures, Boric obtained broad support in the capital, where about half the country’s voters live, and in other regions with large urban centers, such as Valparaiso, where he beat Kast by almost 20 points.

Boric also appears to have won in the northern region of Antofagasta, a zone taken in the first round by Franco Parisi, a controversial economist whose supporters mostly backed Kast in the runoff.

Among the main challenges facing the future Boric administration will be to channel the social crisis that has remained simmering since the 2019 protests, to lead the implementation of the new Constitution’s elements and to deal with the economic challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

EFE mmm-pnm/rfg/eat/bp

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