Chile’s 2021 Presidential Election – the Researching Latin America Series at the University of Edinburgh, School of Social and Political Science

27 January 2022

This event was an informal discussion on the recent election in Chile. How was the election won, and what comes next?

After a fraught presidential campaign, Gabriel Boric defeated right-wing candidate José Antonio Kast in Chile‘s recent presidential elections. At 36, Boric is the youngest president in Chilean history and the first to declare himself a feminist. Boric begun his political career as the leader of Chile’s 2011 student movement and was elected to Parliament in 2013. His triumph has been cast as a revitalization of institutional politics and a sign of the resurgence of the left in Latin America even as his programme is more social-democratic than radical. For some commentators, the uprising of October 18th, 2019 -a mix of peaceful and violent protests- channelled a deep malaise about social injustice and expressed popular demand for structural changes. Chile is one of the most unequal countries in the world, and one where expectations of inclusion and empowerment have risen sharply over the past decades. The events in October 2019 triggered a process to replace the 1980 constitution drafted during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1989). Together with the implementation of his programme Boric will oversee how the new text, written by a Constitutional Assembly, is put to a popular referendum for approval.

This special session of the Researching Latin America Series, hosted by Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, brought together sociologists, political scientists, historians, and a policy expert, to discuss informally the social processes that led to Boric’s victory, the meanings of the result, and the likely outcomes and impact of his presidency.

More information here.