Chile’s Sunday vote

Preparations for a rally for Michelle Bachelet in Santiago. Photo by Odette Magnet

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

The election, polls and an anniversary

Caras Revista

This month will mark 40 years since the military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power, and the Chilean magazine Caras has a special edition—which is quickly selling out—to mark this anniversary http://www.caras.cl/. Center-right presidential candidate Evelyn Matthei is on the cover, and inside she tells an interviewer that the tax reforms proposed by her opponent, former president Michele Bachelet “will bury growth and employment.”

A survey released last month by the Centro de Estudios Públicos http://www.cepchile.cl/1_5349/doc/estudio_nacional_de_opinion_publica_julio-agosto_2013.html#.UiYmntIqiSq asked respondents their opinions, favorable or unfavourable, of a list of Chilean politicians and public figures, and Bachelet received the most favorable ratings—64 percent—to Matthei’s 32 percent.  The survey’s authors emphasized that these ratings were not the same thing as political support or voting preferences. There was a separate question asking respondents who they thought would become Chile’s next president, regardless of their own sympathies, and 75 percent predicted it would be Bachelet. Another question asked those polled who they would like to see become president, and Bachelet received 45 percent, Matthei 11 percent.

It should be pointed out that voting is no longer obligatory in Chile, and most respondents (72 percent) said that they would either definitely vote or would likely do so.  But 52 percent indicated they were either not very interested, or definitely uninterested in the election, which is scheduled November 17.  Stay tuned.