At 35, Boric will be the youngest President of Chile since the country’s return to democracy in 1990 and will replace outgoing President Sebastian Pinera.
With 92.12% of ballots counted as of 5:50 p.m. ET, Boric has secured 55.73% of the vote, while Kast trailed behind with 44.27%. The country’s electoral body has not yet officially announced a winner.
“I just talked with @gabrielboric and I have congratulated him on his great triumph,” Kast tweeted on Sunday evening. “From today he is the elected President of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration. Chile is always first.”
Speaking to President-elect Boric on national television, Pinera congratulated him on his victory. Boric said he will give his best as the country’s future president and thanked Pinera for his call.
Video from CNN Chile showed celebrations in the capital Santiago on Sunday evening, with people waving banners and flags in support of Boric.
Representing polar opposites of Chile’s presidential race, Boric and Kast emerged as the two leading candidates after a general election was held on November 21.
In that vote, Kast garnered 28% of the vote missing the necessary 50% needed to avoid a runoff. Boric came in second with 25% of the vote.
Kast, whose recent surge in popularity has surprised critics, has sometimes been compared to former US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s current President Jair Bolsonaro — he is a staunch defender of former dictator General Augusto Pinochet’s regime and the free-market. The 55-year-old former congressman’s agenda included a tax cut for companies, building barriers in the north of Chile to prevent migrants from entering illegally and abolishing abortion, among others.
Boric meanwhile, was a student leader in the Chilean capital rallying against the country’s privatized education system alongside thousands of others, ten years ago.
This election comes two years after massive protests and riots shook the country in October 2019, with protesters demanding better pensions, better education, and the end of an economic system that they said favors the elite.
The unrest led to now-outgoing President Pinera to agree to a referendum to change the constitution, which was inherited from Pinochet´s bloody dictatorship. Last year, Chileans overwhelmingly voted to draft a new one. That process is in now in the works, with the new constitution to be voted on in a new plebiscite sometime in mid-2022.
Boric’s political platform has been riding on that wave, which includes proposals for a more inclusive public health system, to cancel student debt, to raise taxes for the super wealthy and a revision of the state’s private pension system — which was inherited from Pinochet’s military regime.
But Chile still hasn’t regained the stability for which it was once known. It has been hard-hit economically by the pandemic, and brutal clashes between protesters and security forces continue weekly in Santiago.
Considering the recent past, Boric was widely perceived as the presidential candidate who better represented the country’s social movement. He is a supporter of abortion rights, a welfare state model, and leads a broad coalition that includes Chile’s Communist Party.