Exciting news from South America! Sunday in a run-off presidential election, Chileans chose between Gabriel Boric (social democrat) and José Antonio Kast (conservative). They voted overwhelmingly for Boric, 56% to 44%. Over one million more Chileans voted in December than the first round November 21 (when Kast won 28% to 26%). This month’s voter turnout happened to also be nearly 56%, the most since 2012 when voting was changed to non-mandatory.
Who is Gabriel Boric and how did he win the Chilean presidential election at 35 years old?
Boric was born in the southern tip of his country, in Punta Arenas in the Magallanes region. After high school, he studied law at the University of Chile and was involved in student protests to make higher education more affordable. He was a representative of the University of Chile student organization, and then president of the law students’ organization. The student organizations were able to gain lower costs for some scholars.
Boric did not finish his law degree. Instead he went on to be a deputy of the Chilean Congress. He represented the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic Regions from 2014–2018. The young politician was one of the first candidates outside the two major parties to be elected to the legislative body. He was re-elected for the 2018–2022 term.
When he is sworn in March 11, 2022, Gabriel Boric will be 36 and the youngest Chilean president in history. He promises to fight against inequality and represent marginalized communities. Those ideals are part of the platform for the coalition Apruebo Dignidad (I Approve Dignity) to which he belongs. I have great hope that fifty years after the coup against Salvador Allende when Chilean democracy was shattered, Boric can succeed in making his country more equitable and just for his people.