Socialist candidate Gabriel Boric wins Chilean presidential election

Gabriel Boric, socialist candidate for Chilean President, has won the nation’s presidential election. Boric ran as candidate for the Approve Dignity coalition, comprised of various progressive parties including the Communist Party of Chile, Democratic Revolution, and the Commons. He defeated conservative Pinochet-admirer José Antonio Kast by 56% to 44% in the second round of voting.

At age 35, Boric will be Chile’s youngest president. Former head of the University of Chile Student Federation, he rose to prominence in the 2011 student protests against for-profit education. In his campaigning, Boric called for an end to student debt and private pension shemes, which leave pension funds managed by AFPs, joint stock companies that were established under Pinochet.

The new president-elect argued: “We are a generation that emerged in public life demanding our rights be respected as rights, and not treated like consumer goods or a business”. Boric has also spoken out against environmentally damaging mining projects, which serve not to enrich the Chilean people, but private investors instead.

Alternatively Kast, who came first by 2% in the initial round of voting, is the brother of a former advisor to late dictator Augusto Pinochet. Kast previously called for more restrictive abortion laws, and has attempted to scapegoat migrants as the cause of crimes, vowing to dig ditches on Chile’s northern border. He has also attacked the nation’s LGBT+ community, and opposes same-sex marriage.

Kast conceded defeat within two hours of polls closing and tweeted congratulations to Boric for his “great triumph… From today he is the elected President of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration”.

Addressing a crowd in Santiago following his victory, Boric said “I know that the future of our country will be at stake next year. That is why I want to promise you that I will be a president who will take care of democracy and not jeopardise it, a president who listens more than he speaks, who seeks unity, who looks after people’s daily needs, and who fights hard against the privileges of the few and who works every day for Chilean families.”

Philip English, is a member of the YCL’s Birmingham branch

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