Boric was part of that tiny group of student leaders who, a decade ago, in 2011, led the protests for free, free and quality education in one of the countries with the most expensive education in the world. Then he jumped into Parliament.
Gabriel Boric was the youngest candidate of the seven who, in the first round, were betting on replacing one of the most controversial governments in recent years in Chile: the second term of Sebastián Piñera (2018-2022).
But despite being only 35 years old, and eluding the group of “traditional parties” on the Chilean political board, Boric’s face is an old acquaintance for Chileans.
She was part of the select group of four student leaders, along with Camila Vallejo, Karol Cariola and her current campaign spokesperson, Giorgio Jackson, who led in 2011 the strong demonstrations that shook the country demanding free, free and quality education. Their voices calling for educational equality resonated around the world.
In a country characterized by social, health and educational segregation, the student demonstrations of 2011, which followed those initiated by the 2006 penguin revolution, marked a before and after in a society that was beginning to express its nonconformity in the face of inequality .
Boric replaced the symbolic Camila Vallejo as spokesperson for the Chilean Student Confederation, the Confech, whose role in social movements was fundamental at the time. Critic of the traditional parties, and of the center-left represented by the Concentration, the political coalition that led the transition to democracy in the country, Boric began his parliamentary adventure.
In 2014, the four iconic colleagues won seats as deputies. Boric did it represented in the southernmost region of the country, his native Magellan, so far from Santiago as forgotten by its centralist policies. The leader was elected as an independent candidate when the binominal system inherited from the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship was still in force, tied to favor the conservative parties. His re-election took place in 2017, becoming the most voted candidate in his region and the second in the entire country.
“Boric is part of a generation that carried out political learning in the context of student mobilizations, particularly from 2011 to 2015 that were led by the Student Confederation and that allowed the emergence of new leaderships after a couple of decades where the Politics in Chile had been monopolized by the two great coalitions of the transition, the center-right and the Concertación ”, explains to France 24 Marcelo Mella, political scientist at the University of Santiago and author of the recent book ‘Wanting to be able, and to know, the impact of the Confech in the student mobilizations 2011-2015‘.
Subversion to the inheritance of the dictatorship
“These years were the first great impulse to the transformation that the country has undergone afterwards, which initially aimed to achieve the reform of the higher education system but which goes beyond the sectoral demand to become a more general, much more political one, which sought the subversion of the institutional framework and of the Constitution of 1980, inherited from the dictatorship ”, continues Mella.
“This generation allowed a change within the elite, first by acceding to Congress, as deputies, and later with a high incidence to install new issues on the Chilean political agenda, which have to do with the new challenges facing the country: environmental, energy transition, identity, sexual dissidence, feminism… ”, Highlights the analyst.
Its political role is reinforced with the social outbreak of October 18, 2019, where Boric would have a leading role in seeking an institutional solution to a then deep democratic crisis, when on November 15 of that year all the political parties of They historically reached an agreement against the clock that would stop the violence unleashed in the streets and would mark the beginning of the current writing of a new Constitution. His role in that agreement, embodying the more radical left that also agrees to sign, was highly criticized at the time.
“Boric is a key figure in the signing of the (Peace) Agreement of November 15, 2019 and that provokes a series of criticisms” especially within the left-wing coalition to which it belongs, the Broad Front, causing the resignation of leaders and rank-and-file members of its own party, Social Convergence, explains to France 24 Octavio Avendaño, academic of the Department of Sociology of the University of Chile.
That was reversed because the Agreement gained some support and the criticisms faded over time until it validated the role it has today.
Boric reflects “a young leadership that has overcome criticism of the traditional parties, which is sometimes pragmatic, who knows how to read the conjuncture of the social and political context,” explains Avendaño, by embodying a new politics linked to the spirit that emerges on October 18.
“It represents all this desire for change, especially in the youth sector, in the excluded sector, middle class, university,” says Avendaño.
The Broad Front, which ran for the first time in the 2017 elections as an alternative to the traditional Chilean right and center-left, has been gaining space in the traditional mayoralties in recent months.
From there, the great surprise occurred with Boric’s categorical victory in the July primaries of the Approve Dignity coalition, in which he competed with a longtime favorite in the polls, the mayor of Recoleta and member of the Communist party Daniel Jadue. . But nevertheless Boric won with more than 60% of the votes, in a forceful and unexpected triumph over his adversary. From there, he went on to lead the presidential vote preference polls for many weeks.
It “represents an alternative of transformation” in a democracy that had a very strong oligarchic component. It belongs to the generation and to the new leaderships that impose an openness to discuss new issues. The political agenda has become broader and more inclusive and has been a constant factor in “dynamizing institutional transformations”, the greatest example of which is the Constituent process, says Marcelo Mella.
This is a generation committed to “ending those institutions that represent the legacy of the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet and that has driven the process that Chile is currently experiencing,” adds the academic and political writer.