Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Candidates Locked in Tight Race for Chile’s Second Round

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on January 14, 2010

by Juan Cruz Díaz, for Americas Society/Council of the Americas, January 14, 2010.

With great expectation, Chile and the world are awaiting the results of this weekend’s presidential election. Former President Eduardo Frei, from the center-left Concertación will try—despite most predictions—to retain the government for his coalition. But the favorite is millionaire Sebastián Piñera, the candidate from the Alianza right coalition. In last month’s first round of voting, Piñera, with 44 percent of the votes, scored 15 percentage points higher than Frei.

Most polls had been giving the victory to Piñera, but a January 13 poll published by MORI and directed by Marta Lagos reports that the race is too close to call. The poll gives 50.9 percent of the votes to the Alianza candidate and 49.1 percent to the Concertación. The governing coalition—energized by these results—is making a strong final push to win the election.

The winner will take office after President Michelle Bachelet, who ranks as the most popular president in Chile’s history, with an 81 percent approval rating. That fact, together with a track record of almost two decades of successful administrations, makes the Concertación very strong. But after being in office since the transition to democracy in 1990, the coalition began to lose energy and get bogged down by its own bureaucracy. The candidacy of Frei, a long-time politician without a broad internal consensus, is an expression of that situation…(continue reading)

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