José Antonio Kast: Chilean far-right candidate moderates his program to win support in the second round | International

The presidential candidate José Antonio Kast, in the presentation of his Government program, on December 7.JAVIER TORRES (AFP)

Less than two weeks before the second round of the Chilean presidential elections on December 19, the conservative candidate, José Antonio Kast, presented on Tuesday a new government program with a series of adjustments in economic, environmental and political matters around the woman. In a polarized election where two opposing political projects are at stake, both Kast and his rival, the leftist Gabriel Boric, are forced to reform their proposals to conquer the moderates and the 46.25% of the voters who did not vote for either of them in the first round of November 21. “We seek to recover peace, order and law; recover the economy; guarantee a dignified life; face climate change and drought; and we will have Chilean women as a priority ”, Kast assured this Tuesday when presenting his Plan for the future of Chile, that seeks to appease the critics of its original program.

Kast, a candidate with strong ties to the Spanish Vox party and its leader, Santiago Abascal, was the winner in the first round, with 27.9% of the votes, two points more than Boric, representative of the Broad Front in alliance with the Communist Party, with ties to Podemos, which reached 25.8%. According to recent polls, Boric is the favorite to arrive at La Moneda in March 2022 and replace the current president, the conservative Sebastián Piñera.

Between the first and the second round, the two have reformed their proposal. Kast was the first to submit a new document. The 58 pages of the text have been worked by experts of different tendencies on the right. Kast has now had the backing of pro-government and independent parliamentarians and the parties of Chile Vamos, whose candidate obtained fourth place in the first round. Boric, for his part, has incorporated technicians from the center-left Concertación, with whom he has moderated the tax increase.

The Chilean right-wing candidate tries to placate the shortcomings and weaknesses of his original program, a document drawn up when it seemed unlikely that he would go through to the second round. “In our first program we gained enthusiasm, but we adjusted it while maintaining a great social arm,” said the leader of the Republican Party on Tuesday, which will debut in Congress in March with 15 deputies in a hemicycle of 155 congressmen.

Although it maintains the axes of its first round program, such as economic growth, public security or the fight against irregular migration – issues that explain its good results, and which Boric now addresses with force -, Kast moderates the reduction to the burden Tax: from 10 points in the four years that it had initially proposed, it goes on to condition the tax cuts to economic growth. In the first stage, it will tend to approach the average tax burden of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, close to 25%. The new proposal seeks, according to one of the parents of Kast’s economic program, Sebastián Claro, former vice president of the Central Bank, “to recover a path of progress.”

Along with incorporating popular women’s faces on the right, Kast has tried to nuance his original views on women. Although he proposed the elimination of the Ministry of Women, a measure criticized from different spheres, the candidate has moderated his speech, which has even led him to ask for forgiveness. “We were wrong … I apologize to all women,” he said last week. Kast opposes all forms of abortion, but has assured that he will not impose his beliefs on the decisions of Congress.

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Regarding his new government program, Kast said that it will include “more rights, more resources for women in all areas, whether in the judiciary, on the issue of food pensions, on the issue of visits, on the issue of of the complaints for violence, on the labor issue, on the social issue, on the issue of the State’s collaboration with women and the full development of their rights ”.

The conservative’s second-round program has placed particular emphasis on the environmental and climate change agenda. Although Kast assured in the first stage of his campaign that he would avoid an accelerated exit from newly created thermal power plants, since Chile produces a tiny fraction of greenhouse gases. But now the 58-page document is committed to supporting the main challenges of COP26 in Glasgow and facing the drought and advancing in the elimination of “coal-fired thermoelectric plants as a safe electricity generation system is achieved.”

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