The election of former student leader Gabriel Boric and right-wing independent Sebastian Sichel in the presidential primaries shows that Chileans are opting for a gradual shift to more moderate politics, analysts say.
Sunday’s primaries dealt a knockout blow to the most traditional candidates from the left and right-wing coalitions who participated in it, as well as to opinion polls.
Congressman Boric, who at 35 is just reaching the minimum age to run for president, convincingly beat Communist Party candidate Daniel Jadue in the left-wing coalition primaries.
Sichel, who at 43 was the youngest of four right-wing candidates, left in the wake of ultra-conservative Joaquin Lavin, who is running for a third presidential candidacy, as well as former government ministers of Conservative President Sebastian Pinera, Mario Desbordes. and Ignacio Briones.
“Both candidates (winners) put forward an optimistic vision for the future,” Juan Pablo Luna, a political science academic at the Catholic University of Chile, told AFP.
“Those who lost had a more… defensive vision, more favorable to the past than to the future. “
Jadue, the mayor of poor Recoleta neighborhood in Santiago, had led the polls for more than a year but garnered less than 40 percent of the vote in the two-horse race.
With 49%, Sichel was far from the second Lavin, who in 1999 reached the second round of the presidential election before losing to the socialist Ricardo Lagos, with 31%.
“It’s a new cycle, little by little it is the fall of the historical and traditional political parties which marked Chile’s transition to democracy” after the end of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), Rodrigo Espinoza, the political science coordinator at Diego Portales University, told AFP.
– “Profound change” –
The participation rate in the primaries was high with more than three million voters, the highest since the introduction of the primaries system in 2013.
These elections came just two weeks after the new Constitutional Convention began work on rewriting the dictatorship-era Magna Carta.
Boric’s campaign promised a generational change and a push to the center-left.
“The citizens want a change in depth but they want it by democratic means, by the dialogue and the construction of majorities, and Boric is a better representation of it”, declared to AFP Pamela Figueroa, scholar at the university of Santiago.
Boric said that if elected president, he would lead a decentralized state that distributes power evenly across the country with an environmental and feminist vision and sends neoliberal economic policies “to the grave.”
But he acknowledged that his next “challenge” would be to build unity within the left-wing Approve Dignity coalition, while moving it to the center.
“What we have now is not enough to win in November,” Boric said.
The neoliberal model is widely credited with making Chile the richest country in South America, although it is also lambasted for exacerbating inequalities.
The election of Sichel, lawyer and former Minister of Social Development in the government of Pinera, represents “an exit from the traditional ideological circle of the right”, declared Espinoza.
“An exit from a conservative right to a more liberal right.
“Sichel… had strong ties to the center and now, from a center-right platform, was very adept at getting around the ideological ring post and saying it wasn’t a split.” between left and right but rather the new against the old. “
© 2021 AFP