Chilean leftist Gabriel Boric pledged on Monday to maintain an “orderly economy” and swiftly appoint a cabinet, the day after an overwhelming election victory made him the youngest democratically elected President of Chile.
Boric, a former student protest leader who leads a left-wing coalition and pledged to overhaul Chile’s economic model, has decisively beaten far-right rival Jose Antonio Kast, who was quick to admit defeat, and helped ensure the outcome.
The victory was another step forward for Latin America’s left and fueled discussion of a new “pink tide” in the region as the raging poverty fueled by the coronavirus pandemic moves voters towards those who promise stronger government and higher social spending .
Its rise – and the wider polarization of the vote – had rocked Chile’s markets and terrified mining companies worried about its rhetoric about “burying” the country’s market-oriented economic model, demanding higher taxes and tightening environmental regulations.
Boric, the 35-year-old former law student, had previously promised to bury Chile’s “neoliberal” economic model, but in recent weeks he has softened his tone in an obvious nod to the voters of the center.
“We discussed that with our academic business advisory team, and I claim it was not just an election strategy, it was a belief,” said Boric. “Chile needs transparent accounts, an orderly economy, otherwise our reforms can be reversed.”
He said he would seek to have a cabinet appointed within a month.
In his victory speech on Sunday, he addressed indigenous rights, gender equality and the environment, but also spoke of fiscal responsibility and said he would look after the economy. However, it targeted mining projects that are harmful to the environment.
“We have an enormous challenge. I know our country’s future is at stake in the years to come, so I guarantee that I will be a president who stands up for democracy and doesn’t risk it, ”he said.
“I will fight resolutely against the privileges of the few and work every day for the quality of the Chilean family.”
Progressives in Chile celebrated until the early hours of the morning on Monday with thousands who took to the streets with flags and banners in the capital Santiago to celebrate the election victory.
“I’m very excited because it’s a performance of the people. There have been many years of abuse and we need a renewal in politics, “said Boric supporter Patricia Garrido amid the partying crowds on the streets of the capital.
“I have a lot of confidence and hope in the youth.”
Left leaders across the region hailed his victory: Alberto Fernandez in Argentina, Luis Arce in Bolivia, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Pedro Castillo – another left-wing outsider who became Peru’s president in July.
“It’s spectacular. At some point we thought it was getting closer. Fortunately, fascism has not won from the current right-wing extremist, “said Andres Rodriguez, another Boric supporter.
“There is a big project behind what we are proposing: We want to standardize the system and align things a bit.”
Despite a heated campaign at times between the two opposing candidates, Kast quickly recognized the victory, congratulating Boric and demanding that the result be respected, which is important as the country seeks to heal and unite.
“I’m super excited,” said Cristian Aburto, a Boric supporter who worked at a polling station.
“I think the most important thing is to see people here together. We all want people to be united. “