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Focus on Economics as Election Season Kicks Off in Chile

LADB Article ID: 80121
Category/Department: Chile
Date: 2016-10-14
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

The release of Chile’s latest poverty statistics sparked a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty economic debate between the leading political blocs, which are scrambling to score points ahead of nationwide municipal elections on Oct. 23, and presidential and parliamentary contests in November 2017. But while the competing claims might serve short-term political agendas, they do little, it appears, to address the country’s ongoing confidence in leadership problems. The numbers, reported Sept. 22 by the Ministerio de Desarrollo Social (Ministry of Social Development), suggest that between 2013 and 2015, the percentage of Chileans living below the poverty line (as calculated by income alone) dropped 2.7 points, from 14.4% to 11.7%. As modest as it may be, the poverty dip came as welcome news for the administration of President Michelle Bachelet, who has struggled with paltry approval numbers following allegations implicating her son in a multi-million-dollar real estate and influence-peddling scandal. Bachelet’s conservative opponents, grouped together in the four-party Chile Vamos coalition, took a decidedly different view of the latest poverty numbers. Whereas the governing coalition painted it as a success against all odds, Chile Vamos characterized the results as a missed opportunity.

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