Gabriel Boric takes over the reins of a country clamouring for change following mass protests in 2019, which he supported, against deep-rooted inequality.
Leftist former student leader Gabriel Boric has been sworn in as Chile's youngest-ever president, with plans to turn the country into a greener, more egalitarian "welfare state".
Boric, 36, took the oath on Friday in Valparaiso, the seat of Congress, appearing to hold back tears of emotion as he received the presidential sash from his predecessor Sebastian Pinera.
He expressed a "great sense of responsibility and duty to the people" of Chile. "We will do our best to rise to the challenges we face as a country," the new president said.
Boric takes over the reins of a country clamouring for change following mass protests in 2019, which he supported, against deep-rooted inequality in income, healthcare, education and pensions.
The revolt, which left dozens dead and hundreds injured, was the catalyst for a process now underway to rewrite Chile's dictatorship-era constitution.
Boric has vowed to relegate "to the grave" Chile's neoliberal economic model, which dates from the era of military despot Augusto Pinochet and is widely seen as sidelining the poor and working classes.
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Change on the agenda
Despite concern over his Frente Amplio (Broad Front)'s political alliance with the Communist Party in a country that traditionally votes for the centre, Boric won a surprise runaway election victory last December.
He succeeded in mobilising women and the youth, with a record voter turnout giving him nearly 56 percent of the vote to beat far-right Pinochet apologist Jose Antonio Kast.
Millennial Boric has promised to introduce a European-style social democracy to Chile, boosting taxes to pay for social reform, and all while putting the brakes on spiralling debt.
A lawmaker since 2014, he inherits an economy ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak.
He will tackle these challenges with a cabinet comprised mainly of women and young people — their average age is 42.
Analysts say Boric's daunting task will be complicated by a Congress just about equally split between left- and right-wing parties.
This means that much negotiation and compromise will be required to pass laws to bring his plans to fruition.
More than 20 international guests attended the investiture ceremony, including the presidents of Uruguay, Argentina and Peru, King Felipe VI of Spain, and Colombian presidential hopeful Gustavo Petro.
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