The party has finished. The Alameda and the Plaza de Armas in Santiago de Chile recovered their usual rhythm early on Monday, while municipal employees cleaned the streets and dismantled the big stage, in the heart of the capital, where Gabriel Boric celebrated on Sunday his clear triumph in the second round of the presidential elections and gave his first speech as president-elect.
Now you will have to roll up your sleeves and start asap design the cabinet who will accompany him when he takes over the presidency, March 11th. He will have just turned 36 and will be the youngest president in the country’s history, as well as the most voted, with 4,620,671 votes.
The deputy, former student leader and promoter of a range of reforms that aim to leave behind the historical social and economic inequalities in Chile also marked the feat having won the ballot despite the fact that in the first round of November he came in second place, with 25.8% of the votes, behind the far-right candidate José Antonio Kast who won with 27.9%.
This Sunday, on the other hand, when some expected an adjusted result, the young man from the extreme south of the country, who did not finish his law degree and who led an alliance that unites his Broad Front with the Communist Party, achieved a clear margin, with 55.87% of the votes against 44.13% for Kast.
The front pages of the newspapers this Monday show the triumph of Gabriel Boric, in Santiago de Chile, Photo: AFP
The voice of change
Boric embodied the change that a large portion of Chile demanded loudly in the social upheaval of 2019 and that opened a process of bankruptcy in the country.
While the drafting of a new Constitution is underway to replace the one that has been in force since the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, those who voted for it hope that this outburst of massive anger will begin to materialize in reforms that aim to improve the social conditions of the sectors that were put off for decades.
Boric was exultant when he spoke at the edge of 10 o’clock at night, in front of a crowd in the Alameda, and promised that he will be the president “of all Chileans.”
In the same moderate tone that he showed in the last stretch of the campaign, closer to social democracy than to the extreme left with which he was initially identified, he promised to open up to dialogue, to listen to each sector of society and to all the political forces.
“We have come this far with a government project that can be synthesized in a few simple words: moving forward responsibly with the changes that Chile has been demanding, without leaving anyone behind,” he said.
Even so, in the morning this Monday, the financial markets already showed that there will not be a honeymoon, as it seemed on Sunday when Boric exchanged polite and friendly dialogues and gestures with the current center-right president Sebastián Piñera and with his hitherto political enemy José Antonio Kast.
The reaction of the markets, with a collapse of the stock market and a soaring of the dollar to the highest value in years, seems to show that the future president will have to face a strong resistance from some more conservative sectors and especially from the business establishment.
The dollar opened the day on Monday with a strong rise in Chile. Photo: AFP
His clear shift to center, one of the keys to his victory, reassured some. But this win does not mean a blank check.
The idea that this was “the lesser evil” against its rival, who presented himself as the standard-bearer of order, peace, family values and a strong hand against illegal immigration, crime is still very present in the Chilean air. and the violence of Mapuche groups in the south of the country.
For the first time since the return to democracy in 1990, Chileans did not vote in this ballot for a center-right option and another for a center-left, but for positions more to the extremes. Although both Boric and Kast made a turn to the center in this second stage, aware that they would not get support if they did not move from certain radical positions.
Participation in this ballot -56% of the electoral roll, in a country where voting is not mandatory- showed that Boric managed to mobilize a portion of Chileans who had not gone to the polls in the first round – when 47% of those registered voted – who sought to prevent the arrival to government of a candidate who has defended the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and that many saw as a threat to freedoms.
Which Gabriel Boric will rule?
What many are wondering here is which of the two Boric will be the one that governs: the most radical leftist who appeared in the first round, or the conciliatory and close to the social democracy of the second?
The president-elect embodies the new generation of politicians – according to he himself defines it – who want to take the reins to begin to reverse decades of inequalities. It is proposed to build a welfare state similar to that of European democracies, with greater social spending to redistribute improvements in health systems, education, fair wages and pensions.
But its reform agenda should undoubtedly be gradual and consensualespecially since Parliament, still dominated by traditional center-right and center-left forces, it will put a brake on any radical change.
“Gabriel Boric has no alternative but keep in moderation, especially to negotiate in Congress ”, he explained to Clarion the sociologist Axel Callis, from the pollster Tu Influyes.
“The economic crisis, which is going to be deep next year, will have to be a priority in your government and will require the support of all political sectors. You have to have a vision of the state. And to clear the fears, he will have to define as soon as possible who will be his finance minister. He should be a leader who can understand business sectors ”, he added.
Political analyst Kenneth Bunker, from the Tresquintos consultancy, agrees. Boric got the message that shall rule with restrictions, make certain concessions. If he again entrenches himself on the left, he will not be successful ”, he warns.
The role of the Communist Party
The urgent task will be the building teams that build trust. The great question is what role the Communist Party will have in the future Executive, which generates huge mistrust not only in economic and financial groups but also in many ordinary citizens who fear a turn towards a government close to Venezuelan Chavismo.
Weeks come intense negotiations. The first step will be the meeting scheduled for this Monday Boric and Piñera at the Palacio de La Moneda. Summer in Chile will be very hot. The political climate, too.
Santiago, special envoy