Chile Celebrity Economist Surprises With Kingmaker Role
(Bloomberg) -- A celebrity economist campaigning remotely from the U.S. state of Alabama may help decide who becomes Chile’s next president.
Franco Parisi, who didn’t even visit Chile during his presidential campaign, secured more than 13% of votes as counting continued late Sunday in a first-round ballot. That would put him in third place, ahead of candidates representing the two political blocks that have dominated Chile in the past three decades.
How Parisi’s supporters direct their votes in next month’s runoff ballot between conservative Jose Antonio Kast and left-winger Gabriel Boric will be crucial.
“Parisi’s voter is typically someone with a center-right ideology, that is also disenchanted with the political system,” said Claudio Fuentes, a political analyst and professor at Universidad Diego Portales.
Parisi is also very strong in the north of Chile. In the region of Antofagasta, for example, he obtained 37% of votes, defeating Kast and Boric.
Parisi didn’t participate in any of the debates. A local TV channel recently revealed he had an alimony debt of about 200 million pesos ($241,000).
Since the results were published Parisi hasn’t expressed support for Kast or Boric. “Our decisions are made taking into account our base of support,” Luis Moreno, president of Parisi’s People’s Party, told newspaper El Mercurio. “It’s likely that we set up a digital democratic process, whereby the people will vote and say who they will support.”
Parisi ran for president in 2013, when he obtained about 10% of first round votes, again with strong backing in the north of Chile. A higher percentage of his supporters later backed right-wing candidate Evelyn Matthei, who lost to Michelle Bachelet in the runoff that year.
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