Monday, November 18, 2013

2013 Chile Election Aftermath

To no one's great surprise, Michelle Bachelet came in well ahead of all the other presidential candidates, but short of the majority required to avoid a December runoff. From Chile's electoral site SERVEL 2013:

The right cannot be too happy now. El Mostrador shows the problems that UDI in particular has. Oddly, that problem is that the winners of UDI seats seem to be more willing to compromise, whereas for years that was a position claimed by Renovación Nacional. The right was already in a mess because Evelyn Matthei was only the third choice for a presidential candidate. There is quite a bit of wound licking to be done.

Nonetheless, the Concertación/Nueva Mayoría is still hamstrung by the supermajority requirement of many reforms. In the Senate, the coalition now has 21 seats, which gives it a simple majority, but short of the 22 needed for education reform and far short of the 26 needed to reform the constitution. This means Bachelet cannot fulfill many of her campaign promises.

Another point that merits closer attention is the effect of allowing people not to vote. A total of 6,691,840 Chileans voted, which is by far the lowest number in the postauthoritarian era for a presidential election. We'll have to see the data, but there is a good bet that young Chileans stayed home. Sure, some student activists won seats, including Camila Vallejo, but the establishment won this election.

The bottom line is that, assuming she wins the runoff, Bachelet is going to face a difficult situation. Expectations are high while her ability to get key legislation passed is not. She is currently popular but her coalition as a whole is not. She'll have a honeymoon, but it might not last too long once electoral reality sets in. If the past is a prelude, then she'll name some commissions and muddle through.


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