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"It was very conservative Chile that spoke at the polls."

“It was very conservative Chile that spoke at the polls.”

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Two candidates on the other side of the political chessboard, Jose Antonio Caste of the far right, and Gabriel Borek, a 35-year-old former student leader and parliamentarian from the left, qualified for the second round of Chile’s presidential election. Analysis by Frank Gudesaud, Professor of Latin American Studies at Jean Jaures University in Toulouse.

RFI: The far right came first in the first round of the presidential election, two years after a major social uprising against inequality, while Chile is in the process of drafting a constitution to replace that created by the dictatorship. How do we explain this result? ?

Frank Goodishud: It is somewhat of a surprise, a counter-reaction to the political cycle that took off with the Great Social Revolution of 2019 and the drafting of the new constitution. It is the party of Return to Order and criticism of social movements and the xenophobic nationalist view that prevails.

Very conservative Chile spoke at the polls. José Antonio Caste succeeded in rallying an audience bewildered by this change in the political cycle – of the middle classes, the popular and part of the elites – to a ruthless rhetoric, claiming dictatorship, order and nationalism.

There is great disappointment in Gabriel Borek’s political space on the left and above all great concern: what is his ability to rally 53% of abstentions, especially among the popular classes, in the face of an extreme political choice? A right that threatens the full prospects for social change that have opened up in Chile since 2019.

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Read also: Chile is deeply divided after the first round of the presidential election

Those abstainers, specifically, for whom can they mobilize?

This is the great unknown. Particularly challenging is the left and Gabriel Borek, while Jose Antonio Caste has a more uniform vocal reserve on the right and is therefore in a better position. The challenge facing the Communist Party and Gabriel Borek is to mobilize those sectors that have been disillusioned with politics and rejecting the electoral system as a whole.

Jasna Provost, representative of Christian Democracy [12% des voix, NDLR]But the center-right allied with the Socialist Party. She has a very difficult relationship with the left sector, so much so that she did not openly say that she would invite Borek to vote, although she clearly rejected Kast’s choice. So there is negotiating work already underway to try to rebuild alliances and mobilize for the second round.

Everyone is also courting voters of Franco Baresi, the third man with 13% of the vote. During the last election, he did not give any instructions on voting. It is about a right-wing populist who is highly critical of the oligarchy, who is economically liberal. But there are still strong unknowns about whether he will call for a vote for Cast. In any case, for the left, it will be difficult to get his votes.

Two candidates in Antipodes, a highly polarized country : Is Chile following the trend observed in other Latin American countries? ?

exactly. And in a way, José Antonio Caste embodies a kind of Chilean “polisonism”. This is a phenomenon that we found with Trump in the United States as well. So there’s a tidal wave going through Latin America. Regardless of who wins on December 19, this is a well-established spread in the country that we will have to reckon with in the years to come.

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Read also: Elections in Chile: the far right wants to take back the land after social mobilization

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