Chilean president-elect Gabriel Boric urges citizens to back constitution rewrite

Chilean president-elect Gabriel Boric urges citizens to back constitution rewrite

Chile’s future as a greener, fairer country, depends on the success of efforts to rewrite the country’s dictatorship-era constitution, president-elect Gabriel Boric said on Tuesday.

After a meeting with the delegates elected last year to rewrite the 1980 constitution which enshrined the ideological legacy of General Augusto Pinochet, Boric called for Chileans to unite behind the project.

“We all need to put our best efforts into [the constitutional process], independent of our political differences,” Boric said in Santiago.

A stunning 78% of Chileans voted last year in favor of drafting a new document and another vote this year saw the election of a broadly leftwing assembly for the task.

“If things go well for the convention, they will go well for Chile,” Boric said, confirming that he would respect the convention’s decision-making.

The convention’s president, Elisa Loncón, an academic belonging to Chile’s Mapuche indigenous group, said that the convention would “open its doors to institutional collaborations”, but expected the body’s autonomy to remain intact.

Boric won the largest majority ever recorded in a Chilean election to score a decisive victory over his far-right opponent, José Antonio Kast.

Kast had strongly opposed rewriting the constitution and many voters were worried for the future of the process should he have won the presidency.

But Boric’s victory means he will become Chile’s youngest ever president on 11 March 2022, a decade after he shot to prominence as a scruffy-haired protest leader in 2011.

In Santiago, the euphoria of the result has yet to fully die and the tense uncertainty which characterized the runoff campaigns has mostly dissipated.

After a bitter campaign, Kast quickly acknowledged his defeat, visiting Boric at his headquarters in the centre of Santiago on Sunday evening and declared that his rival “could count on him” when building a new future for Chile.

As president-elect, Boric has been greeted by cheers and chants at each event he has attended.

He gave his first speech on a large stage erected on one of Santiago’s main avenues on Sunday night, with jubilant crowds stretching as far as the eye could see in every direction.

On Monday, Boric held a two-hour meeting with current president Sebastián Piñera at the presidential palace, La Moneda, flanked by his campaign chief Izkia Siches, 35, and political advisor Giorgio Jackson, 34.

Boric’s progressive campaign includes ambitious promises which reflect the momentous generational shift underway in Chile.

Boric prioritizes a green, sustainable post-pandemic recovery, and has pledged to raise taxes on the rich to fund public spending and welfare programs.

He also wants to make Chile more inclusive than ever before.

Boric confirmed on Tuesday that his cabinet will be gender-equal, saying that “women will be protagonists”, and that he hopes to incorporate those from beyond Santiago to recognize the “diversity and heterogeneity of our country”.