Correspondent in Santiago de Chile
With more than 2,700,000 voters, the two primaries that were held this Sunday in Chile gave overwhelming and surprising triumphs to the young deputy and former student leader Gabriel Boric, from the leftist Frente Amplio; as well as the lawyer and former minister of the right-wing pact “Vamos Chile”, Sebastian Sichel. The surprise was greater, since neither of the two winners came to this election as favorites.
The “I Approve Dignity” pact, formed by the Communist Party and the Broad Front, summoned more voters than the right-wing alliance, and Boric accumulated almost a million votes, with over 60 percent of the vote from his sector, leaving on the way the communist Daniel Jadue, who was mentioned as a favorite in this race. Boric’s vote – 35 years old – has even been higher than that obtained by the current president Sebastian Piñera when he competed in the primaries in 2017.
At the same time, Sichel, independent and former Christian Democrat, 43 years old – he widely defeated the also favorite and current mayor Joaquín Lavín, who loses for the third time in his attempt to reach the presidency of Chile. With his more than 400,000 votes, he left the former ministers Mario Desbordes – former president of his party, Renovación Nacional – and the economist Ignacio Briones, who was relegated to fourth place and first to acknowledge his defeat.
The low vote obtained by the alliance of the right has been attributed to the questioned performance of the government of Sebastián Piñera, mainly due to its management of the pandemic, the economic and social crisis, as well as the serious human rights violations committed since the “social outbreak” of October 2019.
No center-left candidates
The ruling party had been suffering consecutive setbacks since the constitutional plebiscite that was decided by 80 percent of the voters end the Constitution of the late dictator, General Augusto Pinochet; then in the May elections where he did not manage to elect enough constituent delegates to have the right to veto, in addition to a rude defeat in the regional governorships –when he obtained only one of 16–; in addition to losing important mayors of large cities.
Boric’s overwhelming triumph, meanwhile, has its roots in a “convening” campaign, as defined by the candidate himself, in a climate of changes demanded by citizens from the so-called “social outbreak”, to the results of the constituent election and a set of transformation proposals. “If Chile is the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave”he said in his speech thanking his voters.
The center-left that ruled for 20 years and made up of the Christian Democrats and the Socialist Party, did not register candidates for the primary competition due to lack of agreement between their parties. Only the Socialist Party has as its presidential candidate former Minister Paula Narváez, who is waiting for the Christian Democrats to define her candidacy. The current president of the Senate, Yasna Provoste, is the most likely candidate for La Moneda. However, Narváez and eventually Provoste will have to establish a mechanism that allows them to nominate a single candidate from this bloc.
To the elections of November this year Boric and Sichel arrive already confirmed, which will eventually be joined by the candidacy of the former Concertación of the center-left, and that of the former parliamentarian José Antonio Kast, of the small, far-right Republican Party.