Municipal elections, the morning after

A poster for Cristian Labbe, the former Pinochet security agent and mayor of the Santiago municipality of Providencia, who lost to an in dependent candidate in Sunday’s municipal elections, Photo by Alexandra Stephens

The new mayor-elect of Santiago is the daughter of one of the late socialist president Salvador Allende’s cabinet ministers who died in detention after the 1973 coup.  Allende’s granddaughter unseated the center-right mayor of the municipality of Nunoa, who had called students at a local girls’ school “sluts” after they sheltered protestors fleeing riot police. An independent candidate beat Cristian Labbe, a former Pinochet regime secret police official and mayor of the Providencia municipality where earlier this year Pinochetistas held a homage to a notorious human rights abuser (see earlier posts   and  And a transgender candidate won a seat on the city council of Valparaiso. Overall, center-right candidates lost 23 municipalities, a serious political blow to President Sebastian Pinera’s conservative government one year before Chile’s next presidential election.

Voter turnout, however, was relatively low. It was the first election since Chile made voter registration automatic, with all adults over 18 eligible to vote.  So the electorate was increased from 8.1 million to 13.4 million voters in a country of 17 million. But abstention levels were higher than in the past, down from 58 percent in 2008 to 45 percent.

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