Chile’s Kast Says He Won’t Balk at Vetoing Laws from Congress
(Bloomberg) -- Right-wing presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast said he won’t flinch at using veto powers to block laws he opposes should he win Chile’s election, lining his administration up for a series of clashes with a potential left-leaning congress.
“If there is a bad law and I have the capacity to veto it, I will veto it,” Kast told reporters Friday.
Kast, an admirer of former dictator Augusto Pinochet, has moved ahead of other candidates and is now vying in the polls with former front-runner Gabriel Boric, a left-winger backed by the Communist Party, ahead of the Nov. 21 vote. As such, the election is shaping up to be a battle of the political extremes, with some surveys showing Kast edging it in the second round on Dec. 19.
Kast’s willingness to use the veto is no moot point. Chile’s congress has repeatedly defied the government in the past year, passing a series of bills to allow people to withdraw funds early from their pension savings, something Kast opposes. President Sebastian Pinera has stepped back from using his veto power to block the bills, while Kast implied today that he may not be so squeamish.
The son of German immigrants after World War II, Kast also said he would not balk at opposing a new constitution currently being written up by a Constituent Assembly. While he would back the new charter, even if it wasn’t to his “entire taste,” Kast said he would be the “first to oppose it,” should it represent a danger to stability in Chile.
The constitution will be put to a plebescite during the first semester of next year, probably after the new president takes over on March 11.
“We have to close this chapter of constant uncertainty” over the rules of the game in Chile, said Kast, who added that he would deal with the Constituent Assembly within the framework of the law. “It merits all my respect,” he said.
The presidential hopeful repeatedly refused to define himself on the political spectrum from left to right, saying he was an advocate of “common sense” policies. He went on to say that he would expel the Venezuelan ambassador in Chile, remained opposed to gay marriage and abortion, would clamp down on illegal immigration and stamp out “terrorism” by indigenous groups in southern Chile.
They are all policies that could put him on a collision course with congress.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.