Presidential Elections

Kast and Parisi both ‘winners’ in Chile’s presidential election first round

José Antonio Kast has won the first round of the presidential elections in Chile, obtaining around 28 percent of the votes. Franco Parisi, who lives in the United States and hasn’t set foot in Chile in two years, is also arguably a “winner” in today’s election because he secured third place and the power that goes with it. As expected, the second round of the elections will be between Kast and Gabriel Boric, the second-place winner.

The elections in Chile were said to be the most unpredictable in years, but few would have predicted the near 14 percent of the votes Franco Parisi managed to obtain. Although the anti-establishment candidate, living in Alabama and facing a criminal prosecution in Chile over a massive alimony debt, won’t go to the second round of the elections, his performance means a large part of the electorate in Chile is fed up with traditional politics.

But the real winner is José Antonio Kast. Kast came up like a rocket ahead of the elections, running a smooth campaign, and fell back only in recent weeks due to comments about the dictatorship. However, partly thanks to the weak performance of center-right Sebastián Sichel, he managed to unite the right behind him. Sichel was the first candidate to concede defeat, and said he would be open to talks with Kast about support in the second round.

Gabriel Boric was long the number one favorite for these elections, and some enthusiasts even dreamed about a victory in the first round. He obtained around 25 percent of the votes and lost mainly in the southern and rural zones. He will need to redesign his campaign to earn the support of voters from the center.

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An important role there is for center-left Yasna Provoste, who obtained only 12 percent of the votes, showing that the days of the mighty, traditional Concertación are really over. Her support for Boric will be very welcome for the leftwing candidate. She said that Chile can’t accept “the fascism of José Antonio Kast”, which sounded hopeful for Boric.

That candidates like Eduardo Artés and Marco Enríquez-Ominami wouldn’t win, was already certain. They obtained 1.5 percent (Artés) and nearly 8 percent (MEO), respectively, and still haven’t declared their support for Boric.

In the end, the biggest question is: Who will Parisi support in the second round? He is suddenly a potential power broker. His voice might be decisive in the final stretch of these elections, which have shown that Chile is a country that is desperately seeking a new identity.

 

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