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Boric, Chile’s next President wins landslide victory seals leftist revival

At 35, Mr. Boric will become Chile's youngest modern President when he takes office in March and only the second millennial to lead in Latin America, after El Salvador's Nayib Bukele

Chilean left-back Gabriel Boric has won a landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential election, marking the country’s largest left-wing revival since the Andes protests over the past two years.

In downtown Santiago, fans cheered, waved and waved Boric-style flags, as well as rainbow flags for LGBT groups in support of his inclusive policies and plans to reform the Chilean market-focused economic model.

“We did it!” Paola Fernandez, 39, said she burst into tears as she hugged her daughter, adding that she was happy with Boric’s ongoing goals.

With more than 99% of votes counted, Boric, 35, who leads the left coalition, had 55.86% of the vote, compared to 44.14% of right-wing rival Jose Antonio Kast, who conceded defeat.

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“I recently spoke to @gabrielboric and congratulated him on his great success,” Kast said on Twitter. “From today he is the President-elect of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive cooperation. Chile has always been at the forefront.”

The 2019 protests highlighted economic inequality and led to a formal constitutional reform.

“I will be the president of all Chileans,” Boric said in a telephone call to right-wing President Sebastian Pinera, who will resign in March.

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‘I REALLY WANT CHANGE’

Lucrecia Cornejo, 72, a seamstress, backed Boric’s promise to redress inequalities in education, pensions, and health care.

“I want equality, not what they call us, ‘broken,’ but inequality in education, health and wages,” he said. “I want real change.”

Elections have been the subject of divisive nationalism for decades, with two candidates offering very different ideas for the future. Kast https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/chiles-bolsonaro-hard-right-kast-rises-with-frank-talk-crime-focus-2021-11-16, 55, made law-and – ordered the campaign and was a defender of former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Often compared to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Chilean “unforgiving hero,” Kast said the “two national models” were directly confronted.

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Both candidates have come from outside the mainstream political party in Chile since the return of democracy in 1990 after Pinochet’s military dictatorship. They both checked their positions in recent weeks to win middle-class voters.

Miguel Angel Lopez, a professor at the University of Chile, said Boric was facing a difficult time and would have to negotiate with the opposition over the split in Congress when there were no factions.

“Now he has to make a strong statement as he tries to end the uncertainty. Much will depend on that and his appointment and decisions. International investors will pay close attention to this.”

Boric supporters say he will redefine the country’s economic model from Pinochet. It was credited with driving economic growth, but was attacked for creating sharp divisions between rich and poor.

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“We can close the chapter on a dark, hurtful and abusive model that has benefited the minority,” said businessman Jorge Valdivia, 54, a Boric supporter.

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Boric, who rose to prominence in the 2011 student uprising for better and less expensive education, wrote in an open letter on Saturday that his government would implement the changes demanded by the Chilean people in the 2019 uprising.

The protests, which lasted for months and sometimes turned violent, overshadowed the legal process for reorganizing Chile’s long-standing constitution, a document that will address a referendum next year.

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“(That means) to have a real social security system that does not leave people behind, to bridge the hate gap between the health care of the rich and the health care of the poor, to continue without doubt the freedom and rights of women,” Boric wrote.

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