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towards a second round polarized between the extreme right and the left

The banners remain collected, crumpled between the hands or placed on the shoulders. The activists gathered at the headquarters of candidate Gabriel Boric (left), in Santiago, at the end of the first round of the presidential election, Sunday, November 21, keep their eyes riveted on their cellphones, while the count of the votes arrives at the dropper. With nearly 98% of the votes counted, the far-right candidate José Antonio Kast (27.9%) is ahead of Gabriel Boric (25.7%), announcing the polarized second round which will take place on Sunday, December 19.

“We thought we would come out on top. I am worried because not winning an election would be one thing but losing it to a backward, authoritarian and pro-Pinochet candidate [général à la tête de la dictature, de 1973 à 1990], would be totally different ”, sighs Matias, a 41-year-old lawyer, in reference to José Antonio Kast, who, if he recently refused the qualification of ultra-right, has already expressed his affinities with the dictatorship. Sitting on the floor, Carmen Morales, 39, consultant, nervously pulls on a cigarette when she discovers the balance of power. “Kast in mind, it’s schizophrenic. I do not understand how a country could vote in favor of a new constitution [à plus de 78 %, lors d’un référendum, en octobre 2020] and give as many votes to a candidate who clearly rejects the assembly which drafts it. « 

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« Of course, there is a symbolic enthusiasm for the candidate who comes out on top, but nothing is settled for the second round », nuance Maria Cristina Escudero, political scientist at the Catholic University of Chile. “It’s going to be a very close ballot, with two totally opposite projects. On the one hand, that of order and public security carried by José Antonio Kast, on the other that of transformation [sociale], carried by Gabriel Boric « , continues the specialist.

« Reconnect with peace, order and hope »

In the wake of the announcement of the results, the far-right candidate, a 55-year-old Catholic lawyer and father of nine spoke to his base, taking care to first thank  » God (…) after that, [s]a family ”. He celebrated the possibility of « Reconnect with peace, order and hope », faithful to the calm tone tinged with a smile that characterizes his speeches. At the heart of his speech, Sunday, November 21: security, especially in the face of « To drug trafficking » and the conflict punctuated by violence surrounding the territorial claims of the indigenous Mapuche population in the south of the country. Outlining a first step towards the voters to be won over, he « Open the door » to those who have it so far « Looked at from a distance ».

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