Chile’s presidential election will move to a run-off between candidates on opposite sides of the political spectrum, following a highly competitive election on Sunday.
With more than 90 percent of ballots counted, right-wing former congressman Jose Antonio Kast led all candidates with 28 percent of the votes, while left-wing lawmaker Gabriel Boric had 25.64 percent, according to Reuters.
Because no candidate won over 50 percent of the vote, a run-off election will take place on Dec. 19.
In a victory speech, Kast portrayed the run-off as a decision between “communism and liberty,” according to The Associated Press.
“We don’t want to go down the path of Venezuela and Cuba,” Kast said, per the AP. “We want a developed country, which is what we were aiming to become until we were stopped brutally by violence and the pandemic.”
Boris, a former student protest leader elected to Congress in 2014, did not attack Kast by name when speaking to supporters after the vote.
“Our crusade is for hope to defeat fear,” Boric said, according to the AP. “Our duty today is to convince others that we offer the best path to a more fair country.”
As leftist voters seek to challenge established powers and others want a government that is tough on crime and immigration, this year marks Chile’s most divisive election since its return to democracy in 1990, Reuters reported.
Though Boric previously led the race, political violence and spikes in crime propelled Kast forward. Most polls predicted Kast would win the election by a few percentage points, Reuters noted.
For two years, Chile has endured sometimes violent protests as people demanded quality of life improvements, Reuters added.
Last month, Chilean oppositional lawmakers moved to remove President Sebastian Pinera after the Pandora Papers revealed his involvement in an offshore business deal.
According to the investigation, Pinera’s family sold their stake of their Dominga mine project during his first presidential term in a deal that may have included a clause prohibiting environmental protections in the area.
Pinera was not eligible to re-run in this election because of consecutive term limits, but the scandal hurt his party in the polls.