More than a political contest, what is elucidated this Sunday in the Chilean elections is a generational fracture. If we look at the profile of the voters of the two favorite candidates to go to the second round – the leftist Gabriel Boric and the rightist José Antonio Kast – this is a battle between those under 35 and those over 50. This generational polarization It is also a novelty with respect to the classic division between left and right. The young people who vote for Boric have higher incomes and more education than the voters of Kast who belong to the popular classes and live in the rural world.
“There is a confrontation between parents and children,” said Roberto Izikson,
responsible for Cadem, one of the best-known demographic companies in the country that publishes a weekly panel with the popularity of the government and other current issues. Kast has an advantage among the male vote and as he has been critical of the current president Sebastián Piñera, he has benefited from one of the most important sociological changes that has occurred in Chile: the resignification of the so-called social outbreak of October 18, 2019 that has gone from symbolizing the desire for change to the rejection of disorder.
“The generational factor is going to be fundamental to understand the outcome of this election,” says Izikson. “The percentage of total participation does not matter so much, but rather how young people vote in relation to those over 50 years old. The result will depend on whether young people continue to vote as they did in the last plebiscite (victory for the left, independents and indigenous activists in May) or if those over 50 who were mobilized for the last time in 2017 (to elect Piñera ) return to the polls ».
Today Boric represents the new, while Kast represents order. And the opposition of these two concepts defines the first round. There are two other candidates vying for the center. One is Sebastián Sichel, Piñera’s former minister, who represents a moderate and technocratic right, and Yasna Provoste, a senator from the more left wing of the Christian Democrats who tries to present her more moderate face.
Three other candidates have become professional aspirants: the socialist Marco Enríquez Ominami, the Trotskyist Eduardo Artés and an ineffable candidate, the populist Franco Parisi, a man who has campaigned online from the US with the excuse that he has the coronavirus , but that in reality he cannot set foot in Chile because a lawsuit awaits him for the non-payment of his children’s pensions.
However, the presidential election is not even decisive to amend the path that Chile has taken during this extraordinary populist moment that it has lived since 2019. Piñera’s weakness has made it possible to verify that the President of the Republic is a man bound in La Moneda, a pale reflection of the hyper-presidentialism that defined the Pinochet Constitution of 1980. Piñera has not been able to defend his exclusive powers in front of the Congress that has taken them for himself through legal loopholes. Nor has it been able to prevent violence.
For this reason, the decisive election this Sunday is that of parliamentarians, the 155 deputies and half of the senators (27). It is very difficult for a president to obtain a majority of like-minded deputies amid the fragmentation of Chilean politics. But it is critical that he win the loyalty of at least a third of the senators to avoid being removed from office on constitutional charges such as the one he failed last week against Piñera and which is the second he has received during his tenure.
The Congress coexists with the Constitutional Convention, another assembly that is in charge of drafting a new Magna Carta, but that frequently intervenes in the political situation through its president, the Mapuche academic and activist Elisa Loncón. This has raised the tone of its criticism of the government after the declaration of the state of emergency in the Araucanía area.
The result of the first round that takes place this Sunday will not only define how the forces between change and order are aligned, but will also offer a clue of where Chile will move: if towards a future splendor that young people believe is at hand. at their fingertips, or towards a disappointment like the one the country experienced when the revolutionary dreams of the 1960s collapsed under their own ambition.