Santiago's stock market surged after Chilean presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast, a fiscal conservative, took the lead against a left-leaning rival in the first round vote

Santiago (AFP) - Santiago’s stock market jumped 9.25 percent on its Monday open following far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast’s lead over a leftist rival in the first round of the country’s presidential election.

Chile’s peso also rebounded 3.5 percent to 800 to the US dollar.

Fiscal conservative Kast led on almost 28 percent with nearly all votes counted from Sunday’s poll, two percentage points ahead of Gabriel Boric, who represents a left-wing coalition that includes the Communist Party.

The pair will face off in next month’s run-off to decide who will replace the unpopular conservative Sebastian Pinera as Chile’s next president.

Kast and Boric represent polar opposites in economic terms, with the former a proponent of the neo-liberal model Chile has followed for more than three decades, while the latter has vowed to implement a welfare state.

As well as suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Chile has been rocked by social upheaval that broke out in October 2019 as thousands of people took to the streets to demand greater equality.

Chile’s GDP is up 11 percent this year, although experts attribute that mostly to an adjustment that accounts for the drop caused in 2020 by the pandemic.

In 2022, when the new government will take over, growth has been predicted at 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.