Kast or Boric, Chile chooses between a conservative turn or the abyss of the extreme left

The conservative Jose Antonio Kast and the ultra-left Gabriel boric –And these are their true political affiliations and not the ones they will find in the majority of the media– they will face this Sunday in the second round of the presidential elections of chili.

Kast reached this ballot, as the second electoral rounds are called in South America, after winning the first call with 27.91% of the votes, while Boric was second with 25.82%.

The right-wing candidate has been the big surprise of the campaign: He did not start among the favorites but he did not stop rising in the polls and ended up beating not only all the candidates of the center right included Sebastian Sichel, who won the primaries of the Chile Vamos coalition to which the still president belongs Sebastian Piñerabut also everyone on the left.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Boric limited himself to meeting expectations and even saw his campaign falter in part after debates with other candidates, since while he had led the polls since he was elected in the primaries, in recent days and in the final vote was outmatched by Kast.

Dignity and the (not so) Broad Front

Boric is the candidate of the Coalition I Approve Dignity, thus formed by two coalitions: Frente Amplio, a meeting of parties to the left of the Chilean Social Democrats that until now had taken turns in power with the center-right; and Chile Digno, commanded by the Communist Party of Chile and the Equality Party.

This great ultra-left conglomerate has been the biggest electoral beneficiary of the social unrest that the left itself has launched in recent years against the Piñera government and that has even led to a constituent plebiscite that approved the development of a new Magna Carta for the country and, subsequently, the vote of a Constituent Assembly.

The Broad Front was founded in 2017 and its alliance with the communists arrived in early 2021 as an electoral tool. In the conventional constituent elections held in May, he achieved the second position with 18.74% of the votes, less than two points behind Vamos por Chile, Piñeira’s coalition.

The candidates: what does the left want?

The ideological approaches and even the style of Boric and the coalition he leads are similar to what the first irruption of Podemos meant in Spain and, above all, to the new formulas that are being tried to implement in Argentine Peronism and also in Spain. In fact, Frente Amplio has even come to sound like the name for the far-left project that it is trying to mount. Yolanda Diaz amid the excessive enthusiasm of a large part of the press.

Despite the fact that especially in the face of this second round he has tried to present a more moderate face, Boric’s program is largely that of the entire ultra-left in Ibero-America and is marked by aspects such as increasing State intervention in the economy, tax reforms whose main purpose is to increase the tax burden and the strong introduction into the public agenda of divisive aspects such as indigenism and feminism.

In the case of Chile, its proposal to end the successful private pension system that was created during the Pinochet dictatorship and that, despite being one of the black beasts of the world left, is a great success for Chilean pensioners, has been copied in several countries and is considered one of the keys to economic prosperity of Chile in the last decades.

Kast, conservative right

Despite being branded an ultra-rightist by practically all the media, Jose Antonio Kast more responsive to the profile of a classical conservative right. His political references include names such as Reagan or Thatcher. He has been accused of vindicating Pinochet, but in reality in the statements that have given rise to it, what he actually said was that, contrary to what happens in Nicaragua, Cuba or Venezuela, the Pinochet regime raised a democratic plebiscite and accepted the result that meant his departure from power.

“I have never denied that there was a military government, that it was an authoritarian government, that human rights violations were committed. In fact, I voted in favor of all the reparation laws while I was a deputy, “said Kast himself to deny some links that have not ceased to occur despite this.

As for his proposals, they are those defended by many conservative parties with a liberal economic perspective: control of illegal immigration, tax cuts, austerity, deregulation and privatization of public companies. In addition, in the turbulent landscape of Chile after the extremely violent protests that shook the country in 2019, Kast has repeatedly promised “peace, security and order”.

How are the surveys going?

In an election in which two completely different and even conflicting country models are offered to the voter, the polls foresee an extremely even result, but the trend of both candidates differs: in recent weeks Kast has improved his forecasts while Boric has worsened them.

The two polls that have been known this week, already outside the legal deadline for publication in Chile, give 50% to each candidate. However, a survey by one of the firms that is now betting on a tie gave at the beginning of December a advantage of more than three points to Boric.

In addition, from the celebration of the first round on November 21 until the legal prohibition to publish more results on December 4, of eleven known polls only one had placed Kast ahead – and with an advantage of nothing more than three tenths – Y the remaining ten were betting on Boric’s victory, some of them more than 15 points apart. The situation is reminiscent of that of the first round, where most of the polls placed the left-wing candidate as the favorite with an advantage that was shrinking and, in the end, being surpassed.

If this does not happen, in addition to leading Chile into a disastrous government, the precarious regional balance of South America would fly to pieces, with ultra-left governments in Venezuela, Peru, Argentina and Chile itself, presidential elections in Brazil next year and a very complicated situation for countries like Ecuador or Colombia that have avoided falling, for the moment, into the arms of Cuban-Chavista leftism.

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