Global Insight: Inequality behind surprise win in Chile

Inequality lies behind a surprise win by populist right-wing candidate Jose Katz in the first round of Chile's presidential elections, held on Sunday.

Many had expected left-of-centre candidate Gabriel Boric to be the winner, especially given the way the Covid-19 pandemic exposed a two-tier, haves-and-have-nots health system in the South American nation, Professor Robert Patman told Global Insight.

Jose Antonio Kast. Photo: Reuters
Jose Antonio Kast. Photo: Reuters
Gabriel Boric. Getty Images
Gabriel Boric. Getty Images

But generation-long free market policies had benefited some Chileans fearful of losing their advantage if reforms were introduced to give wider access to quality education and healthcare, Prof Patman, a foreign affairs specialist, said.

The country has had two years of large-scale inequality protests.

"Kast has appealed to those who believe they have done very well in the last... three decades," Prof Patman said. 

"They see Jose Kast as someone who is going to... restore law and order, as they see it, and bring back certainty."

Katz and Boric will go head-to-head in elections on December 19 to decide Chile's next president.



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