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Chile leftist Boric holds on to lead in polls ahead of presidential vote

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FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Chile's presidential candidates debate on TV ahead of national elections

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean leftist presidential candidate Gabriel Boric held on to a lead over conservative José Antonio Kast ahead of a runoff election on Dec. 19 , a private poll released on Thursday showed.

According to pollster Criteria Research, the 35-year-old lawmaker and former student leader, who is running for a leftist coalition of the Frente Amplio and the Communist Party, had 54% of voting preferences compared to 46% for Kast.

The online study, which surveyed 1,620 people between Nov. 25-29, tallied with a weekend survey from pollster Cadem which also gave Boric an eight-point lead. Another poll showed an almost 20-point gap.

The run-off vote will set the political tone in the world's top copper producing country for the years ahead, with the two candidates pushing wildly different visions for nation's political future.

(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; editing by John Stonestreet)

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