Albeit low in absolute terms, the primaries drew a record turnout. Further underlining the uselessness of local presidential polls, two surprise winners came out on top. Gabriel Boric made the race for the Apruebo Dignidad list and Sebastián Sichel won the race on the right, as an independent.
About 3 million Chileans, a record number for a primary, exercised their right to vote on July 18. The same polls that had previously tapped Pamela Jiles and Franco Parisi as presidential material, failed again when it came to Daniel Jadue and Joaquín Lavín, the latest poll frontrunners.
Instead, Gabriel Boric, running for the left-wing Apruebo Dignidad coalition won 60.4 percent, booting communist Daniel Jadue from the race. On the right, Sebastián Sichel, running as an independent for the Chile Vamos coalition, won 49.1 percent, or nearly 240,000 votes more than poll favorite Joaquín Lavín.
The other right-wing contenders, Ignacio Briones and Mario Desbordes, won less than 132,000 votes.
Boric citing Allende
In his acceptance speech, Boric cited Salvador Allende and encouraged high participation in the presidential elections. “The responsibility to change Chile is collective,” he said. Boric thanked Jadue and promised collaboration with the Communist Party to “build a political and social force that can change Chile.”
He added, “if I’m elected by the people of Chile in November, that by the time my term is over, I can finish my mandate with less power than what I started with, and we will be able to redistribute it throughout the territory.”
Jadue, promising to support Boric, said, “I feel like today’s result is a big step, but it also shows our own shortcomings.”
‘Chile Vamos is now one‘
Sichel said “the winners are millions of Chileans who have fought their whole lives to move forward and that shows us that it can be done with effort and perseverance. Asserting his leadership, he also said “Chile Vamos is now one: parties, independents, people from the street, we are a coalition preparing to win the presidential election.”
Lavín pledged to support Sichel. “This is democracy. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but the important part is to give it your all.”
Briones and Desbordes also promised their support to Sichel. Both highlighted the relatively high turnout, which suggests the presidential elections on November 21 will be fought highly competitively.
So far, Gabriel Boric, Sebastián Sichel, José Antonio Kast (Republicans), Paula Narváez (Socialist Party), and Carlos Maldonado (Radical Party) have thrown their hats in the ring.
Javiera is from Santiago de Chile, she is studying journalism at Universidad de Chile, since 2017 and doing her internship at Chile Today.