Friends reunited? Michelle Bachelet is congratulated by her electoral opponent and childhood friend Evelyn Matthei on her victory in Sunday’s presidential runoff vote.
It’s a shame the Chilean runoff election happened to take place on the same day as Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Michelle Bachelet won an easy victory over Evelyn Matthei, with an estimated 62 percent of the vote, and this will mark the first time since Chile’s return to democracy that a president will serve a second term.
Matthei conceded and personally congratulated Bachelet, telling her supporters that her “deepest and honest desire is that things go well for her.”
Now comes the hard part. The BBC’s Gideon Long reports that Chile’s Central Bank is warning that growth might drop to below 4 percent next year, as copper prices extend their recent decline http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25398021. Bachelet faces high expectations for education reform, but this will be costly and harder to bring off with lower export revenues.
On an entirely different subject, the Santiago Times has an interview with Chilean novelist and culture minister Roberto Ampuero, who recounts his extraordinary odyssey from young Communist Party member during the Allende years, to exile in East Germany and Cuba, to political independent and “liberal in terms of individuals, in terms of limited government, individual freedom and democracy.”http://santiagotimes.cl/qa-novelist-culture-minister-roberto-ampuero/
Preparations for a rally for Michelle Bachelet in Santiago. Photo by Odette Magnet
It is a first for Latin America: two women facing each other in a presidential runoff. On Sunday Chilean voters go to the polls to select either former president Michelle Bachelet or former senator and labor minister Evelyn Matthei. But despite the historical significance of these childhood friends competing against each other, the election is “a bit of a bore,” according to The Economist, as most Chileans are expecting Bachelet to win. http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/12/elections-chile
The Santiago Times has this good summary of both candidates’ positions on issues such as education, tax reform and health care: http://santiagotimes.cl/matthei-vs-bachelet-head-head-deciding-issues/
Bloomberg Business Week observes that with the price of copper, Chile’s chief export, at a three-year low, “Bachelet may be forced to choose between spending an additional $15.1 billion on her social program or balancing the budget by the end of her four-year term.” http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-12-12/bachelet-election-pledges-for-chile-face-hurdle-as-copper-falls
Here’s an interesting column by author and philosophy professor Arturo Fontaine on what Chilean voters really want: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/14/opinion/what-chiles-voters-want.html?hp&rref=opinion/international&_r=0