The outgoing president of Chile, the conservative Sebastián Piñera, asked after the elections this Sunday “Moderation” and “non-polarization” in the presidential ballot that will be disputed by the extreme right and the left on December 19.
“I want to ask you from the bottom of your soul to seek the paths of peace and not violence”, of unity and not of division (…) of responsibility and not of populism, of moderation and not of polarization, “said the president from La Moneda, seat of government.
With more than 85% of the polls scrutinized, the results suggest that the far-right José Antonio Kast and the left-wing deputy Gabriel Boric will fight in the second round after obtaining 28% and 25.5% of the votes respectively.
Far away, with 12.5% support, the candidate of the ruling party and former Piñera minister, the center-right Sebastián Sichel, who in the middle of the count acknowledged his defeat and announced his temporary withdrawal from politics.
“Our generation today passes the torch to a new generation that must use it prudently, with strength and wisdom to be able to light the paths of the future of our country,” added the president.
This is the first time since the return to democracy in 1990 that the candidates from the two major blocs will not be present in the second round: that of the center-right pact (Sichel) and the card of the center-left, the Christian Democrats. Yasna Provoste, who reached 11.7% support.
“We know that Chile needs changes, but changes with freedom, in peace and with justice, changes with responsibility and order,” said the president after congratulating the two winners.
Despite all the differences, Piñera added, “the commitment to build a good country together should never be forgotten.”
Both Sichel and Provoste were ousted even by Franco Parisi, a controversial economist who resides in the United States and won a 13.1% preference. With fewer votes were the progressive Marco Enríquez-Ominami and Eduardo Artés, from the radical left.
“These are difficult times to carry out serious campaigns and defend democracy, which is what we want and in what we believe,” said the official Sichel, who started in September as one of the favorites but who deflated after several setbacks in the debates.
Piñera’s successor, who will take office in March 2022, will face great challenges such as economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, latent social discontent since 2019 and the implementation of the rules of the new Constitution that began to be drawn up last July, if approved in an exit plebiscite.