Latin America

Chile president-elect Gabriel Boric names female-majority Cabinet

Published : January 22, 2022 18:48 IST

For the first time in history, a majority of Chile's cabinet positions have gone to women. Photo: Esteban Felix/AP/picture alliance

14 out of 24 members of president-elect Gabriel Boric's cabinet are women.

Chile's leftist president-elect, Gabriel Boric, announced his first Cabinet on January 21, giving a majority of posts to women and several to former student protest leaders. Boric said that the Cabinet's priorities are managing the coronavirus pandemic, encouraging economic growth along with social inclusion and ensuring that Chile adopts a new constitution. The country's current constitution was adopted under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

'A diverse Cabinet'

Seven of the Cabinet members are in their 30s, and the average age is 49. Boris, elected at age 35, will be Chile's youngest-ever president. Among the newly appointed ministers is the Communist Party legislator Camila Vallejo, who participated in student protests and will serve as the government's spokesperson. Izkia Siches, a prominent doctor who gained plaudits for her role in the country's COVID-19 pandemic response, will head the Interior Ministry. Maya Fernandez, granddaughter of the Marxist president Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a 1973 military coup, was appointed as defense minister. "We are accompanied in this team of ministers by people of diverse backgrounds and training, a diverse Cabinet," said Boric during the announcement.

'A centrist, pragmatic shift'

Boric also named former Central Bank chief Mario Marcel as finance minister. Boric had pledged during the election campaign to enact major reforms to Chile's economic model, including promises of increasing taxes and social spending. Marcel's nomination has been interpreted as a shift toward the center on the part of Boric. Marcel had been critical of Boric during the electoral campaign.

"Naming Mario Marcel as finance minister is a very good sign of economic stability, seen positively by markets," said Miguel Angel Lopez of the University of Chile. "It's all linked to a much more centrist, more pragmatic shift in terms of what Boric wants to do in his government." A third of Boric's Cabinet is made up of independents, and Chile's president-elect also drew ministers from the country's traditional center-left parties, which had not supported him in the first round of voting. Chile's Congress is divided nearly 50-50 between left and right, and Boric's coalition will need the support of other parties to pass legislation.

sdi/fb (AP, AFP, Reuters, Lusa)