Friday, April 06, 2007

Bachelet and blame

President Bachelet is emphasizing the fact that the Lagos administration deserves some of the blame for Transantiago, in particular since that was when the contracts were signed for the buses (and it turned out there were at least 1,000 too few).

This doesn’t strike me as a good strategy, even though what she says is true. Unfortunately, people will blame the administration that implements a plan, not necessarily the one that concocted it. The Bay of Pigs comes to mind—people think of Kennedy, not Eisenhower.

Trying to get the previous administration to share responsibility comes off as complaining and/or passing the buck. Unfortunately for her, there is no good political solution.


Experimentador 9:49 PM  

It´s most certainly not a good strategy. First, given four year presidential periods, any president has to follow the previous president´s agenda, at least to some extent. Second, if you are from the same party or coalition as your predecessor, it´s even a worse idea to criticize and blame him for your current problems.

I think Bachelet´s recent reactions show just how difficult the current political situation is. Last week´s reshuffle was a sign to the Concertación parties that she wants them back on board. However, going against this trend, Viera-Gallo (who I like less and less the more I know about him) is looking like he is more concerned with getting along with the right than with his own party. He was described by Navarro, the Concertación "díscolo" that took his place in Congress in the last election, as a guy who generally "signals left, and then turns right". Well, according to Navarro and many others, now Viera-Gallo is signaling right... where will he go, nobody knows.

Also, the proposal to change the current (and very flawed despite what Carey says) binominal electoral system comes at a very weird time.


Justin Delacour 10:03 PM  

I think a lot of Chileans know that this was Lagos' doing. My Chilean friends certainly understand this. Lagos, unfortunately, wasn't much of a social democrat at all and didn't even consult city planners in hatching the transportation plan. As I understand it, his administration just gave out a bunch of private contracts willy nilly and didn't do any real planning.

Experimentador 11:07 PM  

Well, I don't completely disagree. But from what I read and experienced first hand from Transantiago, there was a lot of planning involved. It's unquestionable that the system has problems, but I think it'll eventually work really well. The system is impressive, yet dysfunctional.
There are some design problems (some people have to walk a lot to get to the buses or have to take three buses to get from point A to point B) that are probably Lagos' gov. responsibility.
However, it was Bachelet who set in motion a system before it was ready... She could have waited a little longer, or could have implemented the system by stages. She didn't, and she's paying the political cost, and then some.
Anyway, I agree with Prof. Weeks. For her to blame the Lagos adm. is just not a good move, politically speaking.


Greg Weeks 7:42 AM  

Ah, and now the former "MB" commenter has a blog. Check it out for a good first hand description of Transantiago.

Justin Delacour 6:09 PM  

Word has it that the Transantiago debacle has neoliberal Finance Minister Andres Velasco written all over it.

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