As voters head to the polls, Chile’s economic model faces a test

Chileans will vote on Sunday in the first general election since massive anti-government demonstrations two years ago. Voters tend to be extreme Because they reject the political system.

The election may enter the run-off stage in December and is seen as a referendum on the Chilean economic model, which has achieved some of the best growth in Latin America in recent decades, but Failure to share benefits Exist widely in the crowd.

“The poor, die poor. Our country’s wealth is unevenly distributed,” said Carolina Cavieres, the 35-year-old mother of two children, who voted in La Pintana, a working-class suburb south of San Diego.

Outside the polling station, 50-year-old José Peredo said when he moved to La Pintana in 1983 that it was still a rural area at the time. He said that Chileans were disappointed because “[the elite] I want to give myself all the cakes. .. If we become a democracy, they promise us equality and see what we have. He pointed to the rows of narrow social housing, overlooking the crowded highway.

The two front-runners of Chile’s next president have very different views on the country’s future.

The 55-year-old, ultra-conservative father of nine children, José Antonio Kast, led the seven candidates by a narrow margin in the final poll. He defended the free market and traditional values. “Chile needs peace, Chile needs order… I invite you to dare to be with me this Sunday,” Custer shouted to the roaring crowd at the closing rally on Thursday.

Custer publicly opposed immigration, same-sex marriage and abortion. He called on Chilean voters alienated by the left to pledge to restore order and reduce taxes under the leadership of the new nationalist Republican party he founded in 2019.

His main opponent is Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old congressman and radical former student leader.Paulick swears Abolish the private pension system And bury the country’s “neo-liberal” past of market-oriented policies that failed to narrow social differences. He is part of a broad left-wing coalition including the Chilean Communist Party.

Boric, who would become the country’s youngest president in more than two centuries if elected, has said that the so-called “Chilean miracle” “was just for the outside world, not for us”.

Gabriel Boric voted on Sunday. He is part of a broad left-wing coalition including the Chilean Communist Party. © JOSE MIGUEL CARDENAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Marta Lagos, a Chilean pollster and sociologist based in Santiago, said that the core problem is not that people are extremely poor. She said that compared with other Latin American countries, “Chileans have basic conditions”, but they do not share them equally.

“Where is Mr. Joe Average? He does not exist,” Lagos said, noting that at least 50% of Chile’s population has a monthly income of less than US$800, which is lower than the national GDP per capita of US$1,100 recorded last year. World Bank.

“People are calling for changes in the redistribution of wealth, which is why candidates like Boric appear,” Lagos said.

This Sunday is the first presidential election since the election. outbreak, Or explosion, Anti-government demonstration In 2019, triggered by the increase in the fare of the San Diego Metro, it was quickly upgraded to High cost of living and income inequality.

A new Congress, regional councillors, and more than half of the Senate are all vying for it.

Claudia Heiss, dean of the Political Science Department at the University of Chile, said that since the full presidential winner may not be announced in the first round of voting, the Congressional vote will become key on Monday.

Hayes said that no party has a majority, and the House of Commons is expected to become “more fragmented” after Sunday, with as many as 13 different parties being forced to negotiate to secure a majority.

“Independents further to the left and to the right will get more seats… representatives therefore will be forced to make alliances to get legislation through regardless of who is made president,” Heiss said.

Congress will need to approve one New text of the current constitution This will be a referendum in the third quarter of next year. In July, a voter-approved parliament began drafting an alternative to the current severely divided constitution, which was adopted in the mid-1980s under General Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

The constitution is conducive to private enterprises, and its supporters claim that private enterprises have promoted the country’s vigorous development and lifted millions of people out of poverty. But for many people, it represents a direct connection to the dictatorship, despite many revisions. The new parliament may weaken the power of the president and expand the scope of the Chilean state.

The abstention rate on Sunday is expected to be high. Lagos said that about 50% of the population may vote, which is an “optimistic estimate.” Unlike other Latin American countries, Chile’s vote is voluntary. Lagos said that part of the reason for the low participation rate is the “huge” voter indifference and the “representation crisis” within mainstream parties.

Peredo from La Pintana said that he had tried to persuade his son to go to the polling station with him at lunch. “I have been in debt for 20 years. It will take a few months to see a doctor, and the crime will only get worse. We must do something.”

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