Presidential candidates close their campaigns in Chile

Chilean presidential candidates close their electoral campaigns on Thursday three days before the elections, the results of which are uncertain and in which an extreme rightist and a leftist appear as favorites.

None would reach 50% plus one of the votes, according to various polls, which would lead Chileans to choose in a December ballot between the conservative José Antonio Kast, who represents two far-right parties, and the former student leader Gabriel Boric, who competes for the leftist Broad Front and the Communist Party, (PC).

The other candidates are Senator Yasna Provoste, a teacher of indigenous descent who represents the center-left; the ruling independent Sebastián Sichel, the progressive filmmaker Marco Enríquez-Ominami, the leftist professor Eduardo Artés and the economist Franco Parisi, who developed his entire campaign through social networks from the United States.

The first to close his campaign was the official Sichel, whose supporters buried a hundred small yellow eddies in the main square of Santiago, and later met with supporters at a nearby location.

In the evening, Kast met at an event with his followers in a park in an affluent neighborhood of the city, which was attended by several musical groups.

For their part, Provoste and Boric chose cities in the interior to finish the propaganda. The first was in Casablanca, 80 kilometers northwest of Santiago, in an event animated by actresses and with artists who participated online. Provoste moved to the main square of Concepción, 500 kilometers south of the Chilean capital, and led an act with controlled participation due to the pandemic.

Since the return of democracy to Chile in 1990, all the presidents have been of the center-left or center-right, sectors that during this campaign are behind the favorites.

“There is still a very deep criticism of the parties, of their leaderships, there are new coalitions here and with a different age profile and with different actors,” Tomas Duval, dean of Social Sciences at the Autonomous University, told The Associated Press.

The Broad Front that supports Boric was created only four years ago and Kast’s coalition was born this year after the candidate left the conservative Independent Democratic Union in 2016, for which he was a four-time deputy.

At the end of 2019 Chile experienced massive protests that led to a plebiscite in 2020 deciding to change the constitution, which will be written mostly by independents, many from the left.

“It seems that people have exhausted their adherence to a political class and traditional parties,” Duval said.

Beatriz Roque, an academic at the Diego Portales University School of Political Science, told AP that Sichel’s electoral campaign, in which the traditional parties did not have an active participation, favored voters from the sector to favor Kast. “The figure of Kast responds to something that Sichel stopped doing,” he added, referring to Kast’s specific proposals in terms of security and order.

María Cristina Escudero, an academic at the Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Chile, pointed out that, as in other countries, the traditional parties “have weakened in their ties with citizens … which are beginning to look elsewhere.” He added that the undecided are estimated at around 55%.

Boric, 35, a law graduate, went from being a student leader to being elected deputy twice while Kast, 55, is running for the second time for president. The first was in 2017, when he presented himself as an independent and obtained 8% of the votes.

Kast and Boric have absolutely opposite proposals on issues such as taxes, climate change and gender. On immigration Boric proposes to establish quotas to receive foreigners, while Kast wants to build ditches to prevent the entry of undocumented immigrants.

The ruling party and the candidate Provoste strongly criticize Boric for his alliance with the Communist Party, while Kast is questioned for his defense of the military dictatorship (1973-1990), during which more than 3,000 opponents were assassinated, of which more out of a thousand are still missing.