PDF download

NotiSur PDF file 2018 right arrow Jan

Confounding Experts, a Familiar Face Returns to Power in Chile

LADB Article ID: 80488
Category/Department: Chile
Date: 2018-01-12
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

In early 2006, when the race for the presidency resulted in a runoff between billionaire businessman Sebastián Piñera, a conservative, and Michelle Bachelet, of the center-left Partido Socialista (Socialist Party, PS), little did voters know just how thoroughly the two figures would dominate Chile’s political landscape over the next dozen years and counting.In that contest—the first and only time the two heavyweights would go head-to-head—Bachelet came out on top, earning herself a place in history as the country’s first female head of state. But four years later, with Bachelet barred by term-limit rules from seeking immediate reelection, it was Piñera who made history, beating former president Eduardo Frei (1994-2000) to become the first rightist leader of Chile since democracy was restored in 1990. Not to be outdone, Bachelet stormed her way back into the presidency in 2014, this time with an ambitious reform agenda and a comfortable majority in Congress. Now, though, the two-time president is preparing, once again, to cede power to Piñera, who secured his own second term with a surprisingly comfortable win (54.6% versus 45.4%) over Sen. Alejandro Guillier in Chile’s Dec. 17 runoff election. The runoff result left analysts scratching their heads, especially as it came in the wake of a first-round contest, held Nov. 19, in which Piñera fared significantly worse than anticipated (he finished first, but with only 36.6% of the vote), and a far-left candidate, radio journalist Beatriz Sánchez of the upstart Frente Amplio coalition (Broad Front, FA), greatly exceeded expectations.

This is only an abstract of the requested article. To obtain the full text, please purchase a subscription or inquire with your institution as to its subscription to LADB.