Counting of votes in Chile’s crucial ballot began on Sunday after closing more than 2,500 polling stations and amid a barrage of criticism against the government for not enabling a more efficient public transport service.
Initial preliminary data is expected from 19:00 local time (22:00 GMT) and the outcome is expected to be very narrow.
Recent polls gave the winner, by a very narrow margin, the young left-wing MP Gabriel Boric versus the far-right Jose Antonio Caste, but experts suggest that the results will depend largely on participation, which in the first round of November 21 barely reached 50%.
Overseas voting, which is unrepresentative, has been imposed by the former student leader in most countries, with the exception of China, where he swept Caste.
They are the candidates with the most opposite proposals in the history of Chilean democracy: Borek advocates the welfare state with feminist and ecological rhetoric and raises fears in the markets due to his alliance with the Communist Party, while Caste, a fervent Catholic, seeks to preserve the current neoliberal model, cut taxes and aggressively confront irregular immigration.
“I came out to vote to defend our rights and improve our lives. “Today things can start to be different,” young Diana Gonzalez told Evie, as she left the polling station in the coastal region of Viña del Mar.
For his part, taxi driver Roberto Poulsen, Effie in the capital’s La Reina district, admitted that he voted “by covering his nose with his fingers” because he does not like any candidate and “Chile is the country of the center and not the extremists. . “
The elections, the most dangerous since the return of democracy in 1990, were marked by endless complaints from citizens who waited hours for public buses to arrive at the polling stations.
The situation was particularly critical at noon and in the areas around the capital, as mayors took municipal vehicles to transport residents.
Both candidates criticized the situation, although they went too far from Borek’s leadership and accused the conservative government Sebastian Pinera to boycott the elections.
“In the face of the government’s process of limiting public transportation in favor of their candidate, we are calling for the organization of taxis, buses and shared cars to transport voters,” said campaign manager for leftists Izkiah Sichis.
The government acknowledged the existence of “jaw episodes” that affected the “fluidity of public transport routes”, but ruled out any kind of intent.
“We deny those trying to install a falsification of the cathedral’s size by saying that nothing has been done so that people can vote. We have 75% more buses than a normal Sunday,” government spokesman Jaime Pelolio added.
Among the main challenges for the future are directing the ongoing social crisis since the 2019 protests, leading the implementation of the rules of the new constitution and confronting the economic challenges left by the pandemic.
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