As he is sworn in as Chile’s youngest ever president, leftist Gabriel Boric will be breaking new ground in more ways than one on Friday.
The 36-year-old, one of the youngest heads of state in the world, has vowed to send Chile’s once-lauded neoliberal economic model — which dates back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship — to the “grave” but that is not the only way he will ruffle the establishment’s feathers.
Whether refusing to wear a tie, shunning the upscale neighborhoods of Chile’s political elites or naming a majority woman cabinet, Boric has already shown his presidency will be a clean break from what has come before in the South American country.
The former student activist only just met the required minimum age to run in last year’s presidential race, seven years after being elected to his first political job as a member of Chile’s Chamber of Deputies.
But his promise to install a “welfare state” in one of the world’s most unequal countries, coupled with a progressive social, ecological and feminist agenda, saw him prevail over far-right rival Jose Antonio Kast in December’s election run-off.
– ‘Tremendously fractured’ –
“If Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism in Latin America, it will also be its grave,” Boric said on the campaign trail.
The millennial leader of the Approve Dignity coalition that includes Chile’s Communist Party, Boric has already aroused suspicion in a country where communist doctrine has few fans.
Despite those fears, his social welfare program proved popular enough to see him trounce Kast in the run-off.