Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Chile politics: Shifting to the right

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on December 16, 2009

by Views Wire at The Econonomist Intelligence Unit, December 14, 2009.

Chile’s political landscape moved to the right of centre on December 13th, when Sebastián Piñera, candidate of the conservative Coalición por el Cambio, won the first-round presidential vote. Ironically, it is the followers of a Socialist dissident and third-place contender who will decide the final outcome in a runoff on January 17th. Overall, however, the approach to policy will remain stable no matter who wins the election.

Mr Piñera garnered 44% of the vote on December 13th—the first time in decades that a right-wing candidate has won the most votes in a presidential election. But this was short of the 50% needed to win outright. Eduardo Frei (a Christian Democrat who served as president in 1994-2000), the candidate of the governing centre-left Concertación coalition, received 30%. Marco Enríquez-Ominami, who broke with the Concertación to run as an independent, got 20%.

The fact that the dissident candidate won a fifth of the votes attests to the weariness of a sizeable chunk of Chileans with the status quo. Mr Enríquez-Ominami, a deputy in Congress and former member of the Partido Socialista (PS, one of four parties in the Concertación), campaigned on a discourse to shake up traditional politics. Rather than focus on policy, he sought to tap into rising popular discontent with Chile’s existing political class, although he himself is a product of this…(continue reading)

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