Six days before Chile votes in the second round of the presidential elections, the two candidates faced each other in the final debate. Both tried to moderate their proposals in a search for an electorate unreachable in the first round. A tense dialogue occurred at the end of the debate, with several personal attacks.
A presidential campaign is exhausting, for sure. Both of Chile’s presidential candidates, in style and voice, showed signs of fatigue when they entered the stage for the last television debate ahead of the elections. Nothing strange here, considering the historic weight of the elections and the long campaigns both candidates have run.
Nevertheless, the presidential debate on Monday night, Dec. 13, had several interesting moments and led to the overall conclusion that both candidates are trying to moderate their views and proposals to gain voters in the center. Whether it was José Antonio Kast praising center left ex-presidents Michelle Bachelet and Patricio Aylwin, or Gabriel Boric naming proposals from center-right ex-candidates Ignacio Briones and Sebastián Sichel. Both are open for dialogue, looking for agreements and incorporating proposals from others. Or at least, that’s the way the world looks when voters need to be convinced.
What the debate also showed is that actions from the past will continue to haunt you if you aspire to be president. Boric visited Palma Salamanca, convicted of killing Senator Jaime Guzmán, during a trip to France as representative and even wore shirt with Guzmán’s head, riddled with bullets, and had to explain himself again. Kast’s past comments and tweets regarding the LGBTQ+ community were also topics of the debate, especially as Kast tries to present himself as someone who will lead all Chileans.
As in many debates, certain important topics were missing. Migration, the climate crisis, but also Chile’s relationship with China and the Constitutional Convention are the real future challenges for Chile and were absent in this debate. Journalists leading the debate weren’t able to detect or correct lies from mainly José Antonio Kast. The biggest loser in this debate and these elections has been the truth and that is something that might be hard to repair if politicians want to regain confidence from Chileans.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.