Leftist Millennial Wins Presidency in Chile

Gabriel Boric, 35, is nation's youngest modern president
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 20, 2021 11:12 AM CST
Chile Elects First Millennial President
Chile President-elect Gabriel Boric celebrates his victory in Santiago, Chile, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)

Former leftist student leader Gabriel Boric will be under quick pressure from his youthful supporters to fulfill his promises to remake Chile after the millennial politician scored a historic victory in the country's presidential runoff election, per the AP. Boric spent months traversing Chile, vowing to bring a youth-led inclusive government to attack nagging poverty and inequality that he said are the unacceptable underbelly of a free market model imposed decades ago by the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The bold promise paid off. With 56% of the votes, Boric on Sunday handily defeated his opponent, far-right lawmaker Jose Antonio Kast, and at age 35 was elected Chile's youngest modern president.

"We are a generation that emerged in public life demanding our rights be respected as rights and not treated like consumer goods or a business," Boric said after his victory. "We know there continues to be justice for the rich, and justice for the poor, and we no longer will permit that the poor keep paying the price of Chile's inequality." In his speech, the bearded, bespectacled president-elect highlighted the progressive positions that launched his improbable campaign, including a promise to fight climate change by blocking a proposed mining project in the world’s largest copper-producing nation.

He also called for an end to Chile's private pension system—the hallmark of the neoliberal economic model imposed by Pinochet. It's an ambitious agenda made more challenging by a gridlocked Congress and ideological divisions recalling the ghosts of Chile's past that came to the fore during the bruising campaign. Still, "it's impossible not to be impressed by the historic turnout, the willingness of Kast to concede and congratulate his opponent even before final results were in, and the generous words of President [Sebastian] Pinera," said Cynthia Arnson, head of the Latin America Program at the Wilson Center in Washington. "Chilean democracy won today, for sure."

(More Chile stories.)

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