Monday (November 22nd): Chile Kasts Its Vote

José Antonio Kast - Chile
José Antonio Kast

Name? José Antonio Kast

Westphalian identity? Chilean 

Age? 55

Why is he in the news? José Antonio Kast, leader of Chile’s far-right Republican party, came out on top of Chile’s first round of elections yesterday (he also wants to dig trenches to keep out Venezuelans).  With 27,91% of votes, Kast was two points ahead of Gabriel Boric, leader of the left party, Social Convergence. The two candidates will face each other in the run-offs on December 19. 

Why do we care? These are the first presidential elections in Chile since the protests of October 2019 and the new Carta Magna. Days of unrest plagued Santiago due to mounting inequalities that broke the spell of Chile as a Latin American utopia. Kast is a conservative, level headed man who supports the status quo rather than progressive measures, like Boric. The jury’s out for whether he will be the president Chileans want after so vocally asking for change. 

Why should you care? This is the first time since 1990 that Chileans do not vote for a centre-x party. Since Chile removed its fine for not voting in 2012, there are lower turnouts and more polarised views by those who do decide to vote. Having had a reputation of a healthy, moderate democracy for thirty years, Chile may be falling for the seductions of hard-line policymakers like much of Latin America. You should care 4/10 about Chileans radicalising. 

Who else cares? Brazilian senator Eduardo Bolsonaro (yes, he is the son of that Bolsonaro) did not hide his excitement for the advancement of the right-wing in Latin America. Bolsonaro expects Kast to be an ally to Bolsonaro’s Brasil should he win the run-off.

Any further comments? The third candidate in the run-offs is liberal candidate Franco Parisi. Kast and Boric must now convince Parisi’s voters. The liberal voters of Chile will decide the path forward for Chile and with it, the changing face of Latin America.

Francia Morales

Editor in Chief for Research and Analysis