Former student activist 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 on Sunday night, December 19.
Aged 35, Gabriel Boric will be the nation’s youngest leader and by far its most liberal since President Salvador Allende. He will assume office at the final stage of a years long 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.
Boric spent months traversing up and down Chile vowing to bring a youth-led form of 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 per cent of the votes, Boric on Sunday handily defeated his opponent, far right lawmaker Jose Antonio Kast, by more than 10 points.
In a phone call with outgoing President Sebastián Piñera, Boric said he would do his “best to rise to this tremendous challenge”.
“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.
“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.”
Mr. Kast conceded the race, saying he had called Mr. Boric to congratulate him.
“From now on, he is the president elect of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration,” Mr. Kast wrote on Twitter.
“I am going to give the best of me to rise to this tremendous challenge,” Mr. Boric said during a televised video call from the outgoing president, Sebastián Piñera, which continued a tradition in Chilean politics.
Mr. Boric also said that he hoped to unite the nation after a hard-fought race. “I will be the president of all Chileans.”
Boric was a former student protest leader and backed the mass demonstrations against inequality and alleged corruption that rocked Chile in 2019 and 2020.