Friday, June 19, 2009

Chile CEP poll

The Centro de Estudios Públicos released its national public opinion study, which has all sorts of interesting bits. For example, Chileans are much more optimistic now about the economy than they were in Nov/Dec 2008. That will work on the Concertación's favor. 53% believe the government has taken effective measures to deal with the economic crisis. In fact, 49% of those who self-identify as "right" or "center-right" approve of the job Bachelet is doing.

Yet the number of people who do not identify with a political party has remained fairly constant, at 46%. The big question is this--where do they lean? There are many people in the U.S. who register as "independent" or "unaffiliated," but typically they lean in a certain direction. Given the electoral results of the past 20 years, one would think they lean in the Concertación direction, but I'd love to see those numbers broken down more. Overall (that is, not just the "no party" category") 38% claim to have no ideological orientation at all.

Meanwhile, 47% think Sebastián Piñera will be the next president (regardless of who they support) compared to 45% for Frei and 3% for Enríquez-Ominami. In a first round, Piñera would get 37%, Frei 28% and Enríquez-Ominami 15%. In a second round, Piñera gets 42% and Fre 39%, with 19% undecided. Interestingly, over 20% believe that Enríquez-Ominami's votes would go to Piñera.

Overall, these numbers pretty much confirm trends I had been discussing with fellow Chileanists at the Latin American Studies Association conference. The Concertación is facing internal schisms, but Piñera's huge lead is gone and this race is up in the air. One question that remains unanswered (and which I tried to start getting at in my conference paper) is how so many Chileans feel disconnected from the political system, but more or less content and not anxious to get rid of the long-time ruling coalition. I am not sure there is another similar example in Latin America.

For another take, see Robert Funk. The English-language MSM focuses on Piñera's narrowed lead.

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