A Chilean wannabe populist hopes to challenge an entrenched political system

Claudio Gerardo’s determined gaze locks on the floor. The darkness around him impels him to see.

Behind him lies a giant obstacle course of screens plastered with the words “End Socialism” and his opponent’s face, Mike Bloomberg. To his left, a pamphlet with his campaign logo. Beside it, a plastic yard sign bearing the words “100 years,” urging Chilean voters to throw out the ruling socialist party.

In a bid to shake up Chile’s fractured politics, Gerardo is running as an independent and is running third in the polls behind the ruling Peronists and the center-right opposition bloc. But he is attracting votes from voters both on the left and the right as he casts himself as an anti-corruption alternative.

“That’s one of the big topics right now,” he says, gesturing to the podium through which he sits in his campaign office.

Without needing to discuss the nuts and bolts of electoral system, a history of questionable stability, or the many legacy of massive corruption within his family, or any of the many other invectives he’s hurled at Chile’s failed political system, Gerardo’s willing to say it all.

“I see an anti-capitalist explosion happening everywhere, in the economy, in institutions,” he says. “If you look at one of the big societal changes, the change in government system, it’s almost all about corruption.”

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