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Gabriel Boric, a former student activist, is elected Chile’s youngest president

At 35, Boric will be the nation’s youngest leader and by far its most liberal since President Salvador Allende, who died by suicide during the 1973 military coup that ushered in a brutal 17-year dictatorship.

By: New York Times | Chile |
Updated: December 20, 2021 5:01:47 pm
Chile's President elect Gabriel Boric, of the "I approve Dignity" coalition, gestures to his supporters after his victory in the presidential run-off election in Santiago, Chile, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Written by Pascale Bonnefoy and Ernesto Londoño

Chileans on Sunday elected Gabriel Boric as their next president, entrusting the young leftist lawmaker with helping to shape the future of a nation that has been roiled by protests and is now drafting a new constitution.

At 35, Boric will be the nation’s youngest leader and by far its most liberal since President Salvador Allende, who died by suicide during the 1973 military coup that ushered in a brutal 17-year dictatorship.

He will assume office at the final stage of a yearslong initiative to draft a new constitution, an effort that is likely to bring about profound legal and political changes on issues including gender equality, Indigenous rights and environmental protections.

Capitalizing on widespread discontent with the political factions that have traded power in recent decades, Boric attracted voters by pledging to reduce inequality and promising to raise taxes on the rich to fund a substantial expansion of the social safety net, more generous pensions and a greener economy.

The president-elect defeated José Antonio Kast, a far-right former lawmaker who sought to portray Boric as a radical communist who would put Chile on a ruinous path, by destroying one of the region’s most solid economies. Boric’s coalition includes the Communist Party.

Kast conceded the race, saying he had called Boric to congratulate him.

“From now on, he is the president elect of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration,” Kast wrote on Twitter.

With more than 98% of ballots counted, Boric had won more than 55% of the vote and Kast had 44%. The margin surprised political observers because recent polls suggested the race was tighter.

“I am going to give the best of me to rise to this tremendous challenge,” Boric said during a televised video call from the outgoing president, Sebastián Piñera, which continued a tradition in Chilean politics.

Boric also said that he hoped to unite the nation after a hard-fought race. “I will be the president of all Chileans.”

Piñera said he was pleased “democracy worked, and you were a part of that.”

The race was the most polarizing and acrimonious in recent history, presenting Chileans with starkly different visions on issues including the role of the state in the economy, the rights of historically marginalized groups and public safety.

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