Wednesday, November 30

Boric, from student leader to president of Chile in just 10 years


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Gabriel Boric Font, a 35-year-old Chilean Patagonian of Croatian origin, has been elected as the youngest President of the Republic in the history of his country. Boric was one of the student activists who came out publicly in April 2011 when a wave of youth protests began. This upheaval coincided in time with the emergence of March 15 in Spain and the expansion of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. In just a decade, Boric has gone from leading the Student Federation of the University of Chile to presiding over his country. His record is comparable to the success achieved by Pablo Iglesias with Podemos, who in just five years went from university professor to vice president of the

government of Spain.

The parallels with Podemos do not end there. At the end of 2011, Boric succeeded the communist Camila Vallejos in his Student Federation, the most brilliant figure on the Chilean left who had achieved great international notoriety. The young people who followed Boric and who would later converge in the Broad Front, represented a new left, apart from the orthodoxy of the CP that saw its faces renewed, but not its political strategies.

The fronts harshly challenged the Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia, the alliance forged by Christian Democrats, Social Christians and Socialists that successfully led the transition to Chilean democracy, guaranteeing almost two decades of prosperity to the country. The questioning was so effective that they convinced a good part of the Chileans that the transition had actually been the second half of the Pinochet dictatorship, more or less the same thing that Iglesias tried to do in Spain.

There are several facts that make Boric a unique person. In 2018, he publicly admitted that he suffers from regular seizures from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that was diagnosed in childhood and self-admitted to a psychiatric hospital for two weeks. In 2019, during the crisis caused by the social outbreak of October 18, he separated himself from his more radical colleagues who were betting on the fall of the government of Sebastián Piñera and agreed to sign the parliamentary agreement that led to the development of a new Constitution for the country.

Boric went on to the second presidential round in Chile with the support of the Communist Party and the Broad Front. His candidacy obtained 25.8% and came in second place after that of José Antonio Kast. But to win he needed to moderate his position extraordinarily and he succeeded to the point that he convinced 55.6% of the voters that he would carry out a social democratic policy not very different from the one carried out by Ricardo Lagos and Michele Bachelet.

Today, Boric is not the main uncertainty in a country where institutions are deeply delegitimized. Although the center-left has a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, it will need to negotiate. And in the Senate, the forces are very balanced. The greatest uncertainty is raised right now by the Constitutional Convention, which in the second half of 2022 will have to present its proposal for a Constitution. This assembly is controlled by the radical left and is very belligerent on contingent issues, to the extent that its vice president had threatened to revise the duration of the presidential term if José Antonio Kast won the election.

Boric should have fewer problems with the Convention than Kast, but that does not exclude that they may arise at some point. At the moment, the most delicate thing for Boric is how to translate the electoral result and the support that he obtained from the center and the moderate left into the coalition of parties that support him, especially because of the role that the Communist Party will play, which has remained in a discreet background.

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