The Day After Chile’s Presidential Election: Starting with High Political Capital

December 23, 2021

The government of Gabriel Boric – Chile’s elected president with nearly 56% of the vote – faces a number of uncertainties but it will start out with high political capital, according to panelists during the webinar “The Day After Chile’s Presidential Election,” co-sponsored by the Santiago Center and the Canadian Council for the Americas (CCA).

“Boric's task ahead is not easy, but I think he starts with a lot of political capital. What role the Communist Party [as part of his coalition] will have in his government will also be very important,” said Cristina Bitar, senior partner and president at Azerta.” Probably the most important announcement that he will make in the upcoming days is who his finance minister will be. If it's a moderate person, the markets will calm down.”

According to Robert Funk, professor at Universidad de Chile, the 35-year-old president elect represents a generation that grew up under or was born in democracy “There's something about Boric, his message and the campaign organization, that mobilized people who used to vote for the right, to vote for him,” he said. “We can already tell there's been a huge rise in participation in poorer areas of Santiago which overwhelmingly voted for Boric. Those were people that either didn't vote or that used to vote for the right-wing,” he added.

Claudia Heiss, head of political science at Universidad de Chile’s Institute of Public Affairs, concurred: “This election mobilized young people to vote and they voted for Boric, providing him with a significant triumph.”

Meanwhile, Pamela Figueroa, professor at Universidad de Santiago, commented on the ongoing process for democratically elected constituents to define a new constitution. Boric's government will be different when that process comes to an end mid-2022, as “he will have the opportunity to lead the transition to the new political system resulting from the new constitution,” she said.

The event was moderated by Marta Blackwell, VP, Canadian Council for the Americas.