Sunday, March 06, 2016

Anti-Politics in Chile

Adimark shows Michelle Bachelet with an approval rating of 27% (67% disapprove) and the Nueva Mayoría at 22% approve/68% disapprove.

One could try to lump Bachelet in with other left or center-left leaders experiencing problems across Latin America (a theme often gleefully used by those who support the other side) but it doesn't work too well in Chile. The country already had a more conservative government, then voted it out.

Instead, we're seeing the continuation of a long-standing trend in Chile that mirrors the United States. Chileans disapprove of just about everything political. The opposition Chile Vamos has 20% approval/67% disapproval, and 32% of Chileans identify with neither coalition.

Years ago while working on my edited book on the first Bachelet government, I spent a lot of time thinking about the lack of a populist surge. The party system is mocked, but no anti-system (Marco Enríquez-Ominami does not count) candidate has emerged. The same had been true for a long time in the United States, where the parties and government were quite unpopular.

Currently, political scientists are asking themselves (all over social media, for example) why they didn't foresee the staying power of Donald Trump. This makes me wonder whether Chilean politics will keep limping along, with everyone unpopular and a large swath of the population feeling excluded. It is not a propitious time for a leftist populist, but right-wing populism is suddenly the rage in the United States.


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