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News > Latin America

Chile's Presidential Candidates Debate Social Issues

  • Five candidates at a presidential debate, Santiago de Chile, Nov. 1, 2021.

    Five candidates at a presidential debate, Santiago de Chile, Nov. 1, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @adnradiochile

Published 2 November 2021

The leftist candidate Boric proposed to transform the Chilean productive structure through the promotion of knowledge-based industries.

On Monday, five presidential candidates debated climate change, culture, and education at an event organized by young people at the University of Chile.


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The event was attended by Gabriel Boric (Approve Dignity), Yasna Provoste (New Social Pact), Eduardo Artes (Patriotic Union), Sebastian Sichel (We Can Do More Chile), and Marco Ominami (Progressive Party). The candidate Jose Kast (Republican Party) refused to attend because he deemed it “unfair". Franco Parisi (Peoples' Party) was in another country involved in personal legal affairs.

The right-wing ruling party candidate Sichel, who is an advocate for coal energy, tried to distance himself from his main adversary, Kast, by attacking his conservative positions on climate change. Boric and Ominami agreed that the structure of Chilean production should stop being focused on the export of commodities and evolve towards knowledge-based industries.

Boric also talked about ending the tax exemption on diesel fuel, which only supports pollution and hinders any effort to modernize the energy sector.

Besides promoting biotechnology industries, Provoste criticized President Sebastian Piñera for not having fostered more solid and permanent links between universities and companies. Artes defended the use of nuclear energy arguing that technological advances make it a safer and more efficient option than it was in the past.

In discussing education, Provoste and Ominami attacked Boric for supporting only public education and ignoring the freedom of citizens to choose between private and public schools. Boric answered that "as long as we guarantee free, high-quality, public education for all, then I see no problem with the principle of freedom of education."

Instead, Boric, Provoste, and Sichel agreed on the need to increase spending on culture from 0.3 to 1 percent of the national budget.

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