JApril Borek will take over the Chilean presidency in March. With nearly 56 percent of the valid vote, the former MP and former student leader from the left-wing “Broad Front” coalition in Sunday’s run-off was more pronounced than recent polls indicated. Even before the end result was clear, losing right-wing candidate Jose Antonio Cast called Borek and conveyed his congratulations. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of supporters of the 35-year-old candidate gathered to celebrate in the streets of the capital, Santiago, and in other cities.
With Gabriel Borek, who will go down in history as the continent’s youngest president to date, a new generation comes to power in Chile. Ten years ago, he was at the forefront of massive student protests calling for equitable access to universities and a privatized education system. Borek was then elected to Congress, along with other leaders of the movement. Meanwhile, his unruly hair had given way to parting, his beard had been neatly trimmed, and the tattoo had disappeared from under his shirt. To read, Borek wears horn-rimmed glasses somewhat resembling former Socialist President Salvador Allende.
More welfare state
The comparison is also necessary from a political point of view. Since Allende, no Chilean president has been as clearly leftist as Borek. After the end of the military dictatorship, Chile was ruled by moderate forces from left and right for more than 30 years. The constitution has been retained since the time of Chile’s dictatorship and liberal economic model, which many economists consider the basis of the country’s wealth and economic stability. Borek represents a new left that reflects the departure of many Chileans from the traditional political class. The protest movement that emerged at the end of 2019 embodies the “social explosion” calling for a more prosperous state and social justice, the pressure of which led to the election of a constitutional conference introducing a new constitution in the country. Next year.
Borek’s choice will not only represent a generational change, but will also be associated with drastic economic changes. His campaign made the demands of the protest movement his own: more state and welfare state, a better health and education system, better local public transportation, higher pensions, and more. Because despite its wealth, Chile is characterized by high inequality. More than half of Chileans do not have a living.
“The Cemetery of Neoliberalism”
One of Borek’s most controversial plans concerns the introduction of the state pension system and the dismantling of private pension funds, which are an important cornerstone of domestic capital markets. Borek wants to tax the wealthy and corporations, particularly in the mining sector, which is important for Chile, more in the future. The Chilean inferior state model is doomed to failure. The change must support the new constitution, which will be submitted to Chileans for a vote next year, because the constitutional convention is under the control of an absolute majority of leftist and independent members. “If Chile is the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave,” Borek said during his election campaign.
His opponents classify Borek as a radical. He describes himself as a moderate socialist and his program has social democratic features. Compared to other left-wing politicians in the region, Borek is critical of the authoritarian governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The same cannot be said of Borek’s coalition partners from the Communist Party. The alliance with the Communists was one of the main points of attack by Cast during his campaign and continues to raise questions about the radicalism of the future government and the changes it is striving for.
Uncertainty – also regarding the new constitution – has emerged in the past few months and has led to record capital flight from Chile. In the coming days, an additional depreciation of the Chilean peso and a depreciation of the Chilean benchmark index on the stock exchange are expected.
In a short conversation between Borek and current president Sebastian Pinera, he noted the difficulty of the position, and Borek replied that he would do better. But Borek does not have much room to fulfill all his promises. According to economists, broad-based economic growth will slow again next year or may even come to a standstill. The country is still struggling with rising inflation, rising costs and mounting debt as a result of the pandemic. The choice of Boric is associated with high expectations, which can quickly turn into disappointment in the impatience of the population.
“Food practitioner. Bacon guru. Infuriatingly humble zombie enthusiast. Total student.”