Chile: Boric has Covid and the campaign is on hold

CHILE - In Brief 04 Nov 2021 by Robert Funk

With just under three weeks to go until the upcoming presidential elections in Chile, public opinion polls have begun to show that Gabriel Boric (Apruebo Dignidad) and José Antonio Kast (Republican Party) will like move on to the December runoff vote, with Boric the likely winner. But on Tuesday evening Boric announced that he was running a fever and was awaiting PCR test results. On Wednesday evening Boric confirmed that he had tested positive for Covid-19. There are at least three ways in which Boric’s diagnosis will impact Chilean politics.

The first is that in-person electioneering will be put on hold for practically the remainder of the campaign. The University of Chile hosted a presidential debate on Monday evening, which means that almost all candidates came into close contact with Boric in recent days – Provoste, Sichel, Artés and Enríquez Ominami – will have to go quarantine for seven days. Boric himself will be out of commission for seven to fourteen days.

The second impact is that whereas all other candidates hurried to wish Boric a speedy recovery, Yasna Provoste – presumably under bad communications advice – issued a very off-tune statement scolding the candidate for not ‘hurrying’ to get his test results. Although Provoste had little chance of making it through to the runoff, her comments came off as cold and insensitive, all but burying any glimmer of hope of coming in second on 21 November.

The third rather unexpected impact of Boric’s Covid diagnosis is that the Senate vote on the fourth pensions withdrawal, which had been set earlier in the day for Tuesday the 9th, is now in doubt, as both Provoste and Senator Ximena Rincon are fo...

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