Ultrarightist Kast, leftist Boric move to Chile’s presidential runoff

Santiago, Nov 21 (EFE).- Ultrarightist Jose Antonio Kast and leftist lawmaker Gabriel Boric will face off for the Chilean presidency in the runoff vote on Dec. 19 after emerging as the two top vote-getters in Sunday’s first electoral round.

Kast had garnered 28.30 percent of the votes to Boric’s 25.07 percent with 71.45 percent of the precincts counted midway through the evening on Sunday.

This is the first time since Chile’s democracy was restored in 1990 that the traditional center-left and center-right parties have not moved to the runoff stage.

Both men have very different campaign platforms and prospective government programs, and this will force Chileans in December to choose between what would be the country’s most leftist government since that of Salvador Allende, who governed from 1970-1973, and what would be the most rightist since the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Boric, a 35-year-old lawmaker and a former student leader who defines himself as an ecologist, feminist and regionalist, wants to expand the role of the state to create a Chile possessing a model of citizens’ wellbeing similar to that of most European countries.

Meanwhile, Kast, a 55-year-old Catholic attorney, seeks to reduce the role of the state, trim imports, deal with irregular immigration with a firm hand and prohibit gay marriage and abortion under all circumstances.

Controversial libertarian economist Franco Parisi, who lives in the United States and never even traveled to Chile for the election campaign or the vote, was the surprise on Sunday, garnering 13.31 percent of the votes, according to the latest tally.

Parisi thus finds himself ahead in the vote count of Christian Democrat Yasna Provoste (with 12.26 percent) and governing party candidate and former Cabinet minister Sebastian Sichel, with 12.08 percent.

“The center-left is not going to be in the second round and that is painful for a political movement like ours that always has thought about how to provide an alternative to a neo-liberal model,” said Provoste, who left up in the air whether or not she would throw her support behind Boric in the runoff.

The Socialist Party, however, did announce that it would support Boric. “We’re issuing a call to Chileans not to minimize the threat represented by an extreme-right option such as that of (Kast’s) potential presidency in our country,” the party president, Alvaro Elizalde, said.

Sichel, however, who did not specify whether he would back Kast and announced that he would temporarily retire from politics, said “I’m not going to vote in the second round for Gabriel Boric … I don’t want the extreme left to win in Chile.”

Much farther behind and with fewer than 8 percent of the vote were progressive Marco Enriquez-Ominami and radical leftist Eduardo Artes.

The 15 million Chileans eligible to vote in Sunday’s election also cast their ballots to select 155 lawmakers for four-year terms, and 27 of the country’s 50 senators for eight-year terms, although the results of those races will take longer to tabulate than the presidential tally.

EFE mmm/rfg/eat/bp

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