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Why This COVID Surge Is Different Than 2020 | Behind Putin's Threats | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Why this COVID surge is different than 2020; behind Putin's threats

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on Omicron, Putin's antics, and Chile's millennial president.

With Omicron cases increasing, is December 2021 really any different than December 2020?

Of course, it's different. You know why it's different? Because so many more people are vaccinated and so many people have already gotten COVID, which means the likelihood that they're going to be severely hospitalized or die goes way, way down. So we should be worrying less individually about COVID even though the policy impact the shutdown impact for at least a few weeks is going to be very significant. And of course, if you haven't gotten your boosters, get those boosters. Of course if you're not vaccinated, I don't know what a booster's going to do for you. Why am I even telling you that?

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What We're Watching: Gabriel Boric, new president of Chile

Boric wins in Chile. In the end, it wasn’t even close. Faced with two diametrically opposed choices for president in Sunday’s presidential runoff, more than 55 percent of Chilean voters went with leftwinger Gabriel Boric instead of his far-right opponent José Antonio Kast. The ten-point gap was so wide that Kast conceded before the count was even done. Boric, 35, now becomes the youngest president of any major nation in the world. Elected just two years after mass protests over inequality shook what was one of Latin America’s most reliably boring and prosperous countries, Boric has promised to raise taxes in order to boost social spending, nationalize the pension system, and expand rights indigenous Chileans. But with the country’s legislature evenly split between parties of the left and the center-right, the new president will likely have to compromise on his sweeping pledge to make Chile the land where neoliberalism “goes to its grave.”

Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric celebrates with supporters after winning the presidential election in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021.

REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

What We’re Watching: Chile’s new prez, Manchin sinks Biden’s agenda, Russian NATO wishlist, Australia vs China, Afghan trust fund

Boric wins in Chile. In the end, it wasn’t even close. Faced with two diametrically opposed choices for president in Sunday’s presidential runoff, more than 55 percent of Chilean voters went with leftwinger Gabriel Boric instead of his far-right opponent José Antonio Kast. The ten-point gap was so wide that Kast conceded before the count was even done. Boric, 35, now becomes the youngest president of any major nation in the world. Elected just two years after mass protests over inequality shook what was one of Latin America’s most reliably boring and prosperous countries, Boric has promised to raise taxes in order to boost social spending, nationalize the pension system, and expand the rights of indigenous Chileans. But with the country’s legislature evenly split between parties of the left and the center-right, the new president will likely have to compromise on his sweeping pledge to make Chile the land where neoliberalism “goes to its grave.”

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Chilean presidential candidates Gabriel Boric, of left-wing coalition 'Apruebo Dignidad' (I Approve Dignity), and Jose Antonio Kast of the far-right Republican Party, pose for pictures before a live televised debate ahead of December 19 second round presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, December 13, 2021.

Elvis Gonzalez /Pool via REUTERS

Chile is no longer boring

My Chilean friends won’t love this, but I’ll say it anyway: for a long time their country’s greatest virtue was that it was sort of boring.

A stable, prosperous, reasonably centrist country surrounded by perennial economic or political basket cases, Chile was the staid uncle with the nice watch. The khakis-and-a-button-down country with the green mountains and the unexpectedly good soccer team.

Goodbye to all of that. This Sunday, 19 million Chileans face one of the most extreme choices that any Latin American presidential election has thrown up in years.

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