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Montevideo, August 4th 2021 - 03:59 UTC

 

 

Underdogs emerge triumphant from Chile's primary elections

Monday, July 19th 2021 - 09:35 UTC
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Neither Boric (L) nor Sichel had been singled out by pollsters as favorites for Sunday's primaries. Neither Boric (L) nor Sichel had been singled out by pollsters as favorites for Sunday's primaries.

Independent candidate Sebastián Sichel took most of the votes within the right-wing bloc, Chile Vamos, while Frente Amplio Deputy Gabriel Boric was chosen in the left-wing Apruebo coalition after Chile's primary elections held Sunday.

Neither winner was among the favourites in the polls, which shows a new error in the electoral studies carried out in Chile.

With a turnout greater than projected and after 94.54% of the votes had been counted, the 43-year-old Sichel, a lawyer and former Minister of Social Development, had obtained
48.96%, followed by Joaquín Lavín's, Mario Desbordes, from Renovación Nacional, and former Minister of Finance Ignacio Briones, in that order.

Lavín and Briones had already conceded defeat earlier Sunday, but the latter blamed it on the current government of Sebastián Piñera's low ratings of approval which barely reaches double digits.

Meanwhile, Boric obtained an overwhelming 60.24% to beat Communist Daniel Jadue.

Boric, a deputy from the Frente Amplio and representative of the southern region of Magallanes, focused his speech on convening a large majority to make economic, social and political changes that yield greater equality in Chile. He was the only representative of his party that signed the Peace Agreement of November 15, 2019, which led to the plebiscite to change the constitution inherited from the military dictatorship.

Sichel drew the moderate centrist vote, stressing that it was necessary to make changes that give greater equality within Chilean society.

Lavín (67), an economist at the University of Chicago, a militant of the Pinochet Independent Democratic Union (UDI), and a member of Opus Dei, claimed that he was the only one who could “stop Communism”, but he barely won within Santiago's uptown commune of Las Condes, of which he was mayor until a few months ago.

On the other side, and although a favourite until a week ago, Jadue paid a price for his bad temper and harsh speech tone. As mayor of the lower-class commune of Recoleta, he was able to prove the need for an economic shift from neoliberal policies inherited from Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.

Sichel thanked “deeply all the candidates of Chile Vamos” and especially Lavín, and remarked: “Now Chile Vamos is one. We are a coalition that is preparing to win the presidential election.”

For his part, Boric thanked Jadue, acknowledged that his campaign “has exceeded expectations”, called for the government “never again without the people” and asked, “not to be afraid of the youth to change this country.”

According to the polls, the favourites were Jadue and Lavín.

Voters had to respect strict health protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, which already registers almost 16 million infections and more than 34,000 deaths in the country.

Last to congratulate Sichel was Desbordes, the candidate of President Piñera's party.

The Constituent Convention's chairwoman, the Mapuche Elisa Loncón, abstained from participating and pointed out through Twitter: “I have always voted as independent, but while I am in office as president of the Constituent Convention, my option is to create an atmosphere of dialogue. together with all the social and political forces, so today I will abstain. May it be a great day for the democracy that the peoples are building.”

The Chilean presidential elections will be held on Sunday, November 21. In these elections, there were only two registered primaries, since this previous step is not mandatory for political parties.

Categories: Politics, Chile.

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