Presidential Elections

A final look at Chile’s presidential hopefuls

With elections slated for Sunday, several candidates have come under unexpected pressure. Their positions vis-à-vis dictatorships but also ideological convictions created some problems, while one candidate tested positive for coronavirus. The race remains as unpredictable as ever.

Presidential campaigns are wrapping up as the Nov. 21 elections are approaching. Some candidates have had smoother campaigns, and some have had it quite hard. Five campaigns were affected by mistakes, but the candidates remain confident of securing the top job.

José Antonio Kast

The Republican Action candidate slipped recently by praising the dictatorship, which he largely avoided until then, even though his admiration for Augusto Pinochet has never been a secret. During his latest press conference, he presented himself as a common-sense rather than far-right candidate. “A concept was coined by the press that I am extreme, extreme in what?,” he said.

But Kast also explained why Pinochet’s rule wasn’t a dictatorship, while Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua are governed by dictators.

Contradicting the truth and reconciliation commission, Kast said, “Nicaragua fully reflects what did not happen in Chile [with Pinochet]: democratic elections were held and political opponents were not locked up. That makes the fundamental difference.”

Read more about last night’s debate:

In the final debate it’s everyone against Kast

Gabriel Boric

Once the frontrunner, the Apruebo Dignidad coalition candidate has come under pressure when sections of the Communist Party, which is a key ally, criticized the Foreign Ministry for signing a joint declaration condemning the re-election of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega. The elections were widely labeled as sham, with various Ortega opponents in jail. The Foreign Ministry signaled support for US sanctions, but the Communist Party said such actions are “going against the will of the Nicaraguan people.”

Prominent Communist Party members like Camila Vallejo, however, criticized the party for the statement and suggested the Ortega government had violated fundamental human rights.

Likewise, Boric has heavily criticized the party statement, underlined his firm support for human rights, and he called the elections in Nicaragua fraudulent.

Sebastián Sichel

Sichel’s alliances have also come under scrutiny. He recently reaffirmed his good relations with the parties of his right-wing Chile Podemos Más coalition, albeit members of several coalition parties quit.

Most defected to Kast, accusing Sichel of being a Trojan horse, acting right-wing to gain their support but wanting to pursue left-wing policies once in power.

Franco Parisi

The People’s Party candidate remains elusive. He recently said on social media that he had tested positive for coronavirus. Parisi lives in the US and claims because of the positive test, he won’t be able to travel. He will be the first candidate ever who cannot vote on Nov. 21. But Parisi is confident to make it to the runoff.

Yasna Provoste

The senate rejection of the fourth pension fund withdrawal bill dealt a heavy blow to Provoste. The motion failed for the fourth time, lacking 25 votes in favor. It will now be reviewed in a mixed commission.

The Christian Democrat candidate emphasized that the passing of the bill would have “to be able to access the right to alimony …; to have flows in their companies, because this has a special context.”

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