Monday, January 24

Chile Elections: The Chilean right-wing fights a civil war towards the elections | International


José Antonio Kast, leader of the Republican Party in Chile, on October 25 in Santiago.
José Antonio Kast, leader of the Republican Party in Chile, on October 25 in Santiago.IVAN ALVARADO (Reuters)

In the middle of the countdown towards the general elections on November 21 in Chile, in which Parliament will be renewed and the succession of Sebastián Piñera will be defined, the ruling right is facing an internal civil war. Although last July the government alliance held presidential primaries, where the independent Sebastián Sichel was elected among four candidates, leaders and parliamentarians of the sector in recent days have publicly turned to support José Antonio Kast, leader of the Republican Party, of the extreme right, and close to formations like Vox, from Spain. It is a matter of pragmatism: according to different recent polls, Kast has managed to considerably increase his support, with a speech based on topics such as order, immigration and the economy. Not only has he surpassed Sichel, who has a moderate right program, but the Republican threatens the favorite of these polarized elections, Gabriel Boric, the candidate of the alliance between the Left Broad Front and the Communist Party.

“I, from now on, prefer to support José Antonio Kast right in the first round”, Senator Claudio Alvarado, from the Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party, said on Tuesday, a formation attached to the right-wing doctrine. The confession of Alvarado, an influential congressman with extensive knowledge of the role of the Government and Parliament, revealed a bleeding that has not stopped yet. Different leaders began in the following hours to show their public support for Kast, who once belonged to the UDI, formed his own party and who in 2017 ran for the first time as an independent candidate for the presidency, with 8% of the vote. , in which Piñera finally won. Support for Kast has come primarily from parliamentarians who will be running for Congress again and who need a popular candidate to get votes in their districts and constituencies.

The official Sichel, a lawyer who comes from the world of the center-left Christian Democracy, tried to put a stop to the flight of adhesions with a strong speech where he distanced himself from the ruling party, from Kast himself – whom he did not even name – and left in freedom of action to the coalition parties. “We are not going to accept the blackmail of those who want me to transform myself into something that I am not: a person of the extreme right,” Sichel said the same Tuesday night in reference to Kast, who in his program has proposed measures such as the construction of a ditch on Chile’s northern border to control illegal immigration. “While some of us want to offer a project for the future, since independence with the parties, we have realized that others, leaving the democratic commitment they had taken, want to go back to the past. Support an old right and make the country back down rights it had already won. For diversities, for women, for minorities, for climate change and the fight for sustainability ”, accused the official candidate, 44, who is betting on changing the face of the Chilean conservatives.

The directives of the right-wing parties have reaffirmed their institutional commitment to Sichel, although there are two formations that have already made it clear that they will be for Kast in a probable second round, which would take place on December 19. Even the Evópoli party did, a party that was founded 10 years ago to push the liberal right. But although Sichel himself is reluctant to take the step of securing support in a ballot, in his sector they act with pragmatism against Boric, whom they consider a great threat: “The adversary is in front and we cannot allow the left to win”, assured the senator of the UDI, Jacqueline van Rysselberghe.

Meanwhile, Kast is still on the campaign, in the bet to go to the second round with the greatest possible support. The 55-year-old lawyer, who in other times has shown his sympathy for Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, has important international ties with forces such as Vox, from Spain. In fact, the Republican Party candidate appears among the signatories of the Madrid Charter, against “the advance of communism” in Latin America. In recent weeks, however, he has moderated his speech and his program. If in the 2017 campaign he even said that if the dictator Augusto Pinochet were alive he would have voted for him, a few days ago he said on television: “Anyone who has violated human rights, whether military or not, I do not support him.” .

Going to the second round, it is not seen complex that the right is ordered after the leader of the Republican Party. “Kast could win alone, but Kast could not rule alone”, The right-wing political strategist, Gonzalo Cordero, has assured that the differences between the ruling party and Kast are not so deep: “If there is a second round between Kast and Boric, it would be a political and ethical obligation for the right to reconcile their projects.” .

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Boric, meanwhile, seeks to join forces on the left, while the Communist Party tries to calm the waters and give signs of governance. “We are not going to leave the broom in the country”, Guillermo Teillier, the leader of this party, who has not turned to social democracy like the Italians, assured that there will be no disorder if they conquer La Moneda. As is the case on the right, in this sector the bet is on the winner: although the center-left has as its candidate the Christian Democratic senator Yasna Provoste, Socialist leaders and technicians have already landed on Boric’s campaign, a 35-year-old deputy very in tune with the formation Spanish We can.

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