Runoff looms in Chile as far-right Kast leads presidential vote

A far-right former congressman is main Chile’s presidential election and appears prone to face a runoff with a former pupil activist.

With 80.54 % of the vote counted late on Sunday, Jose Antonio Kast had 28.15 % versus 25.32 % for Gabriel Boric, with a sizeable hole between them and the remainder of the sector.

Both have been effectively wanting the bulk wanted for an outright win, that means Chile is headed for what’s prone to be a polarised runoff subsequent month.

The election is Chile’s most divisive since its 1990 return to democracy, splitting voters between these looking for a shake-up of the Andean nation’s free-market mannequin and people demanding a more durable line in opposition to crime and immigration.

Kast, a 55-year-old father of 9, has praised the neo-liberal “economic legacy” of former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

His frank discuss, across-the-board conservatism and typically idiosyncratic coverage concepts, corresponding to digging a ditch to curb unlawful immigration, have drawn frequent comparisons with former United States President Donald Trump and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro.

This mixture of images reveals Chilean presidential candidates Jose Antonio Kast on the left and Gabriel Boric on the precise [Claudio Reyes and Martin Bernetti/ AFP]

Boric, a 35-year-old legislator who led pupil protests in 2011 demanding enhancements to Chile’s schooling system, has pledged to scrap the nation’s personal pension system – one of many hallmarks of the free-market reforms imposed within the 1980s by Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Running as the top of a broad alliance that features Chile’s Communist Party, if elected, he says he’ll elevate taxes on the “super rich” to develop social providers and enhance the safety of indigenous folks and the setting.

‘Polarised runoff’

Sunday’s vote comes after two years of typically violent protests by Chileans demanding quality-of-life enhancements. The demonstrations helped result in an ongoing rewrite of the nation’s Pinochet-era structure and propelled the candidacy of Boric, who for a lot of the race held a cushty lead.

Supporters of Jose Antonio Kast react after the partial outcomes of the first-round vote in the course of the presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, November 21, 2021 [Pablo Sanhueza/ Reuters]
Supporters of Chile’s presidential candidate Gabriel Boric collect after the primary spherical of common elections in Santiago, Chile, November 21, 2021 [Rodrigo Garrido/ Reuters]

But growing fatigue amongst Chileans fed up with political violence, mixed with a widespread notion that crime is on the rise, have boosted Kast.

Most opinion polls had Kast successful essentially the most votes by a number of share factors, as gave the impression to be the case on Sunday night. The doubtless runoff on December 19 will probably be extraordinarily aggressive.

Al Jazeera’s Daniel Schweimler, reporting from Santiago, stated supporters gathered at Kast’s marketing campaign headquarters have been “euphoric”.

“People here are delighted and very much looking forward to that second round,” he stated. “They are playing songs that are talking about security and freedom – the two main planks of Kast’s campaign.”

At Boric’s workplaces in Santiago, the temper was equally festive.

Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman stated Boric’s supporters are “certainly not ready to concede defeat”.

“People here are saying we can’t allow Kast to take over, we can’t allow a dictatorship to come back in Chile. In fact, they are nicknaming him KKK Kast because of his anti-migrant policies, and they consider [his election] would be a step backwards 30 years for Chilean politics and society,” she stated.

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“The difference [in support] between the top contenders is very very little. So, anything could happen in a second round and we are going to see a very energised and polarised campaign from now on.”

Newman added that the “big question” of the night time was who the candidates from the centre-right and centre-left events will assist.


Kast and Boric will probably be scrambling to select up votes from the extra reasonable, centre-right contenders in a runoff, making these candidates potential kingmakers.

In third place was economist Franco Parisi, who’s living overseas and didn’t set foot in Chile in the course of the marketing campaign. He had greater than 13 % of the vote.

That might bode effectively for Kast, who, whereas extra to the precise on social and cultural points, shares a lot of Parisi’s conservative financial beliefs.

Centre-right candidate Sebastian Sichel and centre-left Yasna Provoste have been simply behind, each with about 12 %.

“I am not going to vote for Gabriel Boric’s candidacy, and I have programmatic differences with Kast, but I will communicate any decision later,” Sichel stated because the outcomes got here in, including he had congratulated Kast on making it to a second spherical.

“I don’t want the extreme left to win in Chile.”

Meanwhile, Provoste instructed her supporters on the centre-left that she might by no means be impartial within the face of a “fascist spirit that Kast represents”.