Presidential election in Chile: the country chooses its model in an unprecedented ballot

In the golden light of the sunset on the outskirts of Santiago, supporters of José Antonio Kast wave the Chilean star flag – very present at the end-of-campaign meeting of the far-right candidate, Thursday, November 18 -, and rejoice at the song of “We can feel it coming, Kast president!” “

“He is the only person who can put order in the country and solve the problems of insecurity”, enthuses Laura Rodriguez, a 35-year-old engineer from the chic town of Las Condes, where the gathering is held, wearing a fabric mask stamped with a “Kast, go for it”. As the crowd shudders to the rhythm of the injunction “Who does not jump is a communist”, Fernanda Lagos, a 37-year-old human resources executive, explains the reasons for her vote in the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, November 21: “Kast is a person who has authority, character, who will give weight to the armed forces. He is the father of nine children, he is an entrepreneur, he knows how to run a country. “

The 55-year-old lawyer and businessman José Antonio Kast, admirer of dictator Augusto Pinochet but refusing the far-right label, has made a dazzling breakthrough in the polls in recent weeks. From fourth man – and behind Yasna Provoste (center left), the only woman candidate for this presidential election with seven contenders – he became one of the two favorites of the first round, alongside the left-wing candidate, Gabriel Boric. It is a panorama as volatile as it is polarized which precedes this election, in many respects completely unheard of since the return to democracy in 1990.

Relationship with the Constituent Assembly

For the first time, the political landscape is not structured by the center-left-center-right pendulum – represented, for this election, by the candidate Sebastian Sichel – which has punctuated the presidential mandates for more than thirty years. It is, moreover, the first presidential election since the movement against inequalities of 2019, which has profoundly reformulated the trajectory of the country, in particular with the election of a Constituent Assembly currently plunging on a new fundamental law. In the light of the program of elected constituents, the Magna Carta aimed at replacing the text inherited from the dictatorship (1973-1990), should endorse the social rights demanded by the streets.

“These are extremely important elections in the sense that the next president will define the relationship with this assembly: will he go in the direction of his work, as Gabriel Boric would do? Or will he place himself in a logic of confrontation, as José Antonio Kast would do? “, asks Julieta Suarez Cao, political scientist at the Catholic University of Chile. Like many experts, she invites you to approach polls with caution. These have regularly failed in their forecasts during the last polls.

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Presidential election in Chile: the country chooses its model in an unprecedented ballot

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