Chileans on Sunday elected Gabriel Boric as their next president, entrusting the young leftist lawmaker with helping to shape the future of a nation that has been roiled by protests and is now drafting a new Constitution.
According to New York Times, at 35, Mr. Boric will be the nation’s youngest leader and by far its most liberal since President Salvador Allende, who died by suicide during the 1973 military coup that ushered in a brutal 17-year dictatorship.
He will assume office at the final stage of a yearslong initiative to draft a new Constitution, an effort that is likely to bring about profound legal and political changes on issues including gender equality, Indigenous rights and environmental protections.
Capitalizing on widespread discontent with the political factions that have traded power in recent decades, Mr. Boric attracted voters by pledging to reduce inequality and promising to raise taxes on the rich to fund a substantial expansion of the social safety net, more generous pensions and a greener economy.
The president-elect defeated José Antonio Kast, a far-right former lawmaker who sought to portray Mr. Boric as a radical communist who would destroy one of the region’s most solid economies. Mr. Boric’s coalition includes the Communist Party.
Mr. Kast conceded the race, saying he had called Mr. Boric to congratulate him.
“From now on, he is the president elect of Chile and deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration,” Mr. Kast wrote on Twitter.
With more than 98 percent of ballots counted, Mr. Boric had won more than 55 percent of the vote and Mr. Kast had 44 percent. The margin surprised political observers because recent polls suggested the race was tighter.
“I am going to give the best of me to rise to this tremendous challenge,” Mr. Boric said during a televised video call from the outgoing president, Sebastián Piñera, which continued a tradition in Chilean politics.
Mr. Boric also said that he hoped to unite the nation after a hard-fought race. “I will be the president of all Chileans.”
Mr. Piñera said he was pleased “democracy worked, and you were a part of that.”
Jubilant Boric supporters took to the streets Sunday night in several Chileans cities. Many waved the national flag and chanted campaign slogans as champagne bottles were passed around.
Addressing supporters from a stage in a packed plaza in Santiago late Sunday night, Mr. Boric said he intended to unite the nation and set in motion structural changes to make Chile more egalitarian. “Today hope trumped fear,” he said.
The race was the most polarizing and acrimonious in recent history, presenting Chileans with starkly different visions on issues including the role of the state in the economy, the rights of historically marginalized groups and public safety.