Gabriel Boric became Chile’s youngest-ever president-elect with an unexpectedly large victory over his far-right rival in a polarizing race.
Boric, 35, received over 56% of the vote, compared to 44% for ultra-conservative Jose Antonio Kast, who conceded even before the final result was announced.
Following Kast’s surrender, tens of thousands of Chileans flocked to the streets of the capital and other cities, blasting vehicle horns in delight, displaying pro-Boric posters, waving the rainbow LGBTQ flag, and shouting: “Viva Chile!”
Boric ran on the promise of establishing a “social welfare” state, raising taxes and expanding social expenditure in a country with one of the world’s worst wealth and poverty disparities.
Detractors labeled him a “socialist,” but he pledged in his first formal address Sunday to “increase social rights” in Chile while exercising “fiscal prudence.”
“We will do it correctly to safeguard our macroeconomy and to strengthen pensions and healthcare,” he added.
Kast thanked Boric, the leader of a coalition that includes Chile’s Communist Party, on “his wonderful achievement.”
“As of today, he is Chile’s president-elect, and he deserves our full respect and constructive collaboration.”
Chile is always first.”
Boric won by over a million votes out of 8.3 million ballots cast by 15 million eligible voters.
“Clearly, more young people came out,” Claudia Heiss of the University of Chile told AFP. “It is apparent… that Boric managed to organize the section that is more difficult to mobilize, which is the sector of young people.”
“I think all of (Kast’s) anti-rights, anti-women, anti-gay comments helped organize that youthful element,” she continued.
The incoming president will confront the tough challenge of repairing a nation that has been shattered by a divided campaign filled with aggressive assaults and false news barrages.
It was a stark decision between two polar different political outsiders for a country that has voted moderate since the democratic removal of Pinochet 31 years ago.
Boric on Sunday reiterated his plans for “a more humane Chile, a more dignified Chile, a more egalitarian Chile.”
He will be inaugurated in March next year.