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Chile prepares for second round of presidential voting

Chile prepares for second round of presidential voting
Far-right Jose Antonio Kast, leftist Gabriel Boric compete in tight race

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Chile will vote in a presidential runoff election Sunday between hard-right former deputy Jose Antonio Kast and leftist former protest leader Gabriel Boric.

The two ideologically opposed candidates are competing for votes that will have the victor lead the country from 2022 to 2026.

Although Kast finished on top in the first round of elections on Nov. 21, Boric is determined to become the youngest president in Chile's history.

Boric and Kast have been campaigning to win the support of the other candidates that lost in the first round.

Kast is expected to take 12.79% of votes received by center-right rival Sebastian Sichel who announced his support for the right-wing candidate. He is backed by Franco Parisi, who obtained 12.80% in the first round.

The Christian Democratic Party's candidate Yasna Provoste, who received 11.61% of the vote in November, and Marco Enriquez-Ominami, who followed with 7.61%, offered support for Boric.

Former President and current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet caused controversy last Sunday after she announced that she would vote for Boric.

"It does matter which candidate is voted for, that's why I'm going to vote for Gabriel Boric," she said, ​​hoping to convince an undecided electorate.

Abstention reached 53% among the 15 million citizens called to vote in November.

Kast, a 55-year-old lawyer and former deputy, has shown sympathy for the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. He is said to resemble former US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President state Jair Bolsonaro with his anti-immigration stance and anti-abortion rhetoric.

After 20 years as a member of the right-wing Independent Democratic Union Party, Kast left in 2016 and participated in the 2017 general election as an independent candidate, finishing fourth with 8% of the vote.

He founded the Republican Party in 2019 where he ran and received 27.9% in the first round, ahead of all other candidates.

Boric, a 35-year-old progressive lawmaker, played an important role in the 2011 student protests against structural inequality.

As a member of the left-wing I Approve Dignity coalition, he won second place in the first round with 26% of the vote.

While Kast promises "order and progress" to Chileans, Boric is competing for a country where social rights and freedoms are protected.

For the last month, both candidates have been intensifying personal attacks while trying to moderate their positions to win votes of a wider, more moderate, electorate.

Kast has accused Boric of using drugs, which forced the leftist candidate to show analyses in November that indicated that there were no drugs detected in his bloodstream.

As the tightly contested race ends, the outcome remains highly uncertain.

source: News Feed
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