Presidential Elections

International coverage on Chile’s presidential election

SANTIAGO – Gabriel Boric won Chile’s runoff election by a relatively large margin in what started out as a close, polarized race. The former student leader’s presidency will take the country yet one more step out from under the shadow of the Pinochet dictatorship. Here is a look at the international coverage of the left-wing candidate.

The international media has taken great interest covering the second round of Chile’s presidential election. The close fight had the international community on the edge of their seats when Dec. 19 arrived. With both candidates representing vastly different ideologies, the world was left wondering whether Chile would vote for the former student leader or the pro-dictator candidate.

In the first round, José Antonio Kast and Gabriel Boric passed on to the runoff with 27.94 percent and 25.75 percent, respectively. Thereafter, both candidates suffered damning setbacks in their campaigns, and, as efforts to reach La Moneda intensified, accusations flew and political alliances fractured. Polls started giving Boric the edge but nothing was certain.

For Spanish newspaper El País “all conclusions were in suspense” for the second round. El País highlighted the unpredictability of the race from the start, citing the surprising downfall of the right’s Joaquín Lavín and Daniel Jadue, expected to win the primaries for the left. Even more surprising than this was the candidate who seized third place all the way from the State of Alabama in the United States, Franco Parisi, when it was expected that Chile Podemos Más candidate Sebastián Sichel would capture it.

To add to the surprises, yesterday’s election result saw Boric win with nearly 56 percent of the vote against Kast’s 44 percent. However, upon closer inspection, it is not that surprising for a nation that voted for a new constitution to go on to vote for a presidential hopeful presenting himself as the candidate for “hope” and change.

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While Boric presented himself as “a fight against fascism,” Kast spoke fondly of General Pinochet whose legacy is set to be further overwritten with a new constitution. The Washington Post noted that the new constitution would play a significant role in the next president’s time in office. Elisa Loncón, president of the Constitutional Convention, is one of the many representatives who highlighted the importance of the future president’s responsibility to uphold the new constitution.

The revelations that Kast’s family had  ties to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party is what the Washington Post says may have contributed to the Republican candidate losing out on the presidential seat.

France24 called the elections the country’s “most divisive in decades,” highlighting the striking differences the candidates proposed for the nation’s future. Despite praising Boric’s landslide victory, becoming the president with the greatest number of votes in Chilean history, France24 emphasized the reality of a divided Congress which the millennial president will immediately face upon being sworn into office in March 2022.

The BBC noted Boric’s achievement in winning but also suggested it resulted in some immediate financial tumbles: the Chilean peso fell sharply against the U.S. dollar – in fact, to a record low – and stock markets also took a 10 percent haircut.

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