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Chile heads into tight presidential runoff


Author : Indo Asian News Service

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Santiago, Dec 20 (IANS) Chileans have cast their votes in the most uncertain presidential ballot since the country's return to democracy in 1990, a tight runoff race between leftist deputy Gabriel Boric and right-wing politician Jose Antonio Kast.

Kast, leader of the far-right Republican Party and presidential candidate of the Christian Social Front, voted on Sunday morning in the rural municipality of Paine, located an hour away from capital Santiago.

"It would be a great honour to be able to direct the destiny of the nation. There are legitimate differences, but we have to work for dialogue and unity. This is done through justice, order and security," he said.

Kast, who won the first round of the presidential election on November 21 with 27.9 per cent of the vote and a little more than 146,000 ballots of difference, said these elections "will be narrow" with a difference of fewer than 50,000 votes between candidates.

Boric, of the left-wing coalition Approve Dignity, received 25.8 per cent of the votes in the last elections and he cast his ballot in the southern city of Punta Arenas, which he represents as a deputy of the lower house.

The legislator also predicted "a close election," and so invited people to participate and believe "that politics could be different".

"A country is built by everyone. If you decide to do so, I hope to be the president of all Chileans", said the candidate, who added he was "calm and hopeful for having run a clean campaign without inventing or spreading lies".

President Sebastian Pinera also urged citizens to vote after casting his ballot in Las Condes in the capital.

"We hope to have a democratic, transparent, clean electoral event, honoring our beautiful republican tradition," said Pinera, whose term will end on March 11, 2022.

The Ministry of Health guaranteed a calm and safe election, due to the high vaccination rate that has led to fewer cases as well as the biosafety measures in place at polling stations.

However, the Ministry still called for caution due to the spread of the Omicron variant, which has already been detected in 30 patients in the country.

For this election, 14,959,956 people are eligible to vote, while 71,018 people are registered abroad, for a total of 15,030,974 voters.



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