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Die-hard conservative wins first round of presidential race after years of left-wing terrorism

Conservative candidate José Antonio Kast narrowly beat Communist-backed candidate Gabriel Boric in the first round of Chile’s presidential elections on Sunday, paving the way for a run-off in December without any centrist options.

Chileans also seized power from left-wing congressional coalitions, depriving the left of a plurality in the Senate and leaving its numbers drastically diminished in the lower house.

Chile operates on a multi-party system, so the first round of presidential elections usually has a large number of candidates.

In Congress, parties must forge alliances with like-minded parties to promote their legislation, as inter-party competition makes any party with a majority rare.

Chilean presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast addresses ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP supporters via Getty)

The South American country has been facing nearly three years of riots, looting and far-left terrorism, which began in late 2019, allegedly in response to the government of current President Sebastián Piñera which is considering increases in fares for the Santiago metro. Piñera, a “center-right” billionaire, has yielded to almost every extreme left demand made since the start of terrorism, including backing an initiative to trash the country’s constitution and replace it with a more pro-government document. socialism.

While the “protesters” initially claimed they were simply seeking to stop the increases in metro fares in the capital, claiming they were disproportionately injuring the working class and students, they repeatedly bombed and torched buildings. churches and other cultural institutions that had nothing to do with the metro system. The country’s constitution does not deal with public transport.

Kast founded his Republican Party in 2019 as an alternative to Piñera’s pro-Chinese corporate politics. He is now running for the Christian Social Front, a coalition of several conservative and center-right parties. Boric is a member of the far-left Front Broad party and is running as part of the Endorse Dignity coalition, which includes the Communist Party of Chile.

With 100 percent of the vote, Kast received the most votes of all the candidates with 27.9 percent. Boric, coming in second, received 25.8 percent of the vote. If no candidate obtains 50 percent of the vote or more, Chile’s electoral system requires a run-off between the top two candidates.

In Congress, the left coalition in the Senate lost its majority. While keeping it in the Chamber of Deputies, it lost a significant number of members to the benefit of the Republican Party and other conservative groups. Piñera’s independent coalition also lost its representation.

The loss in the Senate is particularly painful for the left because, as Tele13 noted in Chile, “they will no longer be able, with their own voices, to remove a president”.

Leftists ousted Piñera, after years of concessions to rioters, in October for alleged corruption.

After his victory on Sunday night, Kast defined the election as “a choice between freedom and communism”.

“We interpreted that a majority of Chileans want a calm and secure country,” Kast said in his victory speech. “It’s time for us to get Chile back… in December, we don’t just choose a president, we choose between freedom and communism, between democracy and communism.

Kast described voters’ confidence in him as a sign of “hope” in the nation and a step towards “peace, order, progress and freedom”. He specifically addressed the situation in La Araucanía, a region plagued by indigenous Mapuche terrorism, as a priority for his future government.

The conservative candidate’s emphasis on peace and security was a hallmark of his campaign, which has grown in popularity amid the tumult of left-wing riots over the past two years. Chilean media Ámbito noted that on Saturday he argued with a foreign journalist over the repeated use of the term “ultra-right” to describe his political ideology.

“Don’t call me ‘ultra-right’ because I’m not,” Kast reportedly said, “I hope you classify me as a common-sense candidate. “

Kast was one of the strongest voices in Chilean politics against the riots that broke out in Santiago in 2019 and continued for at least a year, in a political scene where many have described them as understandable political assemblies. Other conservative voices, though few in number at the time, noted eyewitnesses saw organized criminals handing out food and drugs to would-be looters and rioters in exchange for their participation in the violence.

“If I see how the Chilean left has acted throughout history on the streets, how it organizes itself and reacts, it has nothing to do with what we are seeing now. Guys, for example, distribute food before protests, alcohol, we assume drugs, ”René Barba, a city councilor in a Santiago suburb, told Breitbart News in 2019.“ There are people [at rioting sites] there they wait for them with food and before that they give them a drink, so they have parties in those places.

Among the many shocking images of the past two years have been of hollowed-out churches, some set on fire, presumably in protest against public transport fares. In October 2020, a leftist terrorist group burned down one of Santiago’s most historic churches and vandalized it with satanic graffiti, including an inverted cross and the number “666”. The graffiti did not explain the connection between Satanic iconography and Santiago’s public transportation system.

“Chileans, it’s time to wake up. The left wants to see your country burn down and start all over again. Defend your homeland, ”Kast wrote on social media at the time.

Rather than ending terrorism, an October 2020 referendum in which Chileans voted to abolish their constitution sparked a new wave of violence from the left-wing mob, including attacks on posts police to prevent the authorities from fighting the violence.

In addition to making an assertive response to organized violence a centerpiece of his campaign, Kast has been prolific on social media. In October, Kast appeared at Chinese outlet Tiktok disguised as Obi Wan-Kenobi for Halloween.

@joseantoniokast We have the heights! Que tengas buena semana✌ ## parati ## chile ## tiktokchile ## halloween ## starwars ## kast ♬ original sonido – Jose Antonio Kast

Boric, a leader of student protests before his rise to the national legislature, campaigns as the only thing between Chile and authoritarianism. However, he refrained from directly attacking the favorite on Sunday.

“I am not here to occupy this platform to speak ill of other candidates. We have come to make hope, dialogue and unity our crusade, ”Boric said.

“In this challenge that we accept with humility, everyone has their place. We must work for the unity of the Democrats, ”Boric continued. “We know it’s tight, it’s difficult, but we’re going to win. It is precisely in difficult times that the courage of leaders is tested.

Boric faced a significant challenge last week in his attempt to make his radical left coalition the choice of people who believe in democracy after the Communist Party of Chile, which is part of his alliance, released a statement applauding Nicaraguan Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega for hosting this Organization of American States (OAS) President Luis Almagro called “the worst possible election”. Ortega arrested seven presidential candidates ahead of the election to run largely unopposed, then used state violence to quell resistance to his regime on election day. Dissenters also reported numerous allegations of voter fraud and intimidation.

spain El País noted that Boric’s allies endorsing a fraudulent and authoritarian “election” shortly before Boric’s own election had forced Boric to “attempt to break away from a party he has an alliance with to form a government, but the leaves in an awkward position facing the home stretch of Sunday elections.

Boric issued a statement urging the Communist Party to “withdraw its position on Nicaragua”.

Speaking to the Spanish newspaper, international human rights lawyer Paz Zárate noted that the Communist Party’s support for Ortega was “not surprising” but that her attitude was not limited to this organization.

“The PC [Communist Party] in Chile has supported atrocities in China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, to name just a few recent examples. But the problem is not just the PC, ”said Zárate. “It’s endemic to this industry.”

One profile by Time The magazine noted that, if elected, Boric would “increase taxes on major industries, increase government spending to overhaul services, and remove the private pension system that has supported Chile’s capital markets.”

The second round of the Chilean presidential election is due to take place on December 19.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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