America

The context of the presidential elections in Chile

After a disputed campaign, the leftist candidate Gabriel Boric has won the majority against José Antonio Kast, lawyer and Catholic politician. The bishops ask him to "govern for all Chileans".

Pablo Aguilera-January 10, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes
Gabriel Boric. President elect of Chile.

In a hard-fought ballot on Sunday, December 19, José Antonio Kast, a lawyer and Catholic politician, accepted his defeat against his rival, Gabriel Boric, candidate of the extreme left.

In the early morning of Monday 20, the final results were reported: Boric received 55.8 % of the votes, compared to Kast's 44.1 %. The percentage of Chileans who went to the polls in this second round was 56.59%. In the first round of November 21, 47.34 % of the citizens voted; in that round Kast had obtained the first majority, closely followed by Boric.

In his government proposal, Kast presented different strategies to protect life from conception to natural death, to reinforce the preferential right of parents to educate their children and to recognize the culture and identity of indigenous people, among other proposals.

Meanwhile, the government proposal of Boric, standard-bearer of the Frente Amplio and the Communist Party, promises the incorporation of a feminist perspective, the implementation of policies such as the "legal, free, safe and free abortion"and modifications to the gender identity law, among other ideas.

Boric is in his second term as a deputy and for the 2019 social outburst he signed the Agreement for Peace to meet the demands of the citizenry regarding public policies that allow for greater dignity and that today is translated into the Constitutional Convention to propose a new Constitution for Chile.

In view of the presidential election, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference (CECh), issued a prudent communiqué on December 16, where they offered their prayers for the next president and asked him to "to govern for all Chileans, seeking paths of dialogue, agreement, justice and fraternity.".

Some bishops, individually, reminded their faithful of the ".non-negotiable principlesThe Standing Committee sent its greetings to the winner of the election: "The Church must respect life from conception to death, marriage between a man and a woman, freedom of education, etc.". When the result of the election was known, the Standing Committee sent its greetings to the winner: "I would like to congratulate him on his victory.We pray to God to give you his wisdom and strength, which you will undoubtedly need. The mission is always greater than our possibilities and capacities, but we trust that -with the collaboration of the citizens, the work of the various social and political actors, and the spiritual strength that comes from faith and the deepest human convictions- he will be able to face his task with generosity, commitment and prudence.".

Although Boric's program proposes to make drastic changes in public policies, he will most probably have to negotiate with the opposition, since the latter will have 50 % of the senators in the new Congress. The President and the new parliamentarians will take office next March.

Beyond the outcome of the presidential election, there is something more important to come. The Constituent Convention, which started working last July, should deliver a proposal for a new political Constitution between April and July 2022. Sixty days later this text will be submitted to a plebiscite; for its approval or rejection, 50 % plus one of the votes will be needed.

The Catholic Church and other Christian denominations, Jews, Muslims and others are collecting the 15,000 signatures required to support a proposal on religious freedom to the Convention. This proposal was submitted in writing last October.

The president of the Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Archbishop of Santiago Celestino Aós reflected on this situation in his Christmas message, emphasizing welcoming, listening and dialogue: "We are in another: busy with our chores and political and social plans, angry in our financial adventures and misadventures, discussing religiously about justice and sins, always sins of others, because corruption is in other neighborhoods! The words money, vacations, business, yes, wrapped in viruses and contagion, and ICU beds, etc., ring out and resound. very worried and lamenting that the avalanche of objects and gifts is not so great, and because our celebrations must be limited to the ordered capacities, and without understanding that we all must make our contribution to better organize our coexistence, to put peace where there is violence, respect where there is hatred, honesty where there is corruption, marital fidelity where there is abuse and abandonment, dialogue where insult and disqualification deafen, welcome where migrants suffer rejection. They are everyone's task, it is also your task.".

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