Friday, November 23, 2007

I want my two dollars

Following up on the question of why President Bachelet’s approval ratings are so low, the Chilean senate provides two reminders. First, there are serious divides within the Concertación that she has been unable to reconcile. Second, very few people feel she can fix Transantiago.

These were highlighted by the fact that Bachelet requested $92 million to address Transantiago problems. The Senate—including two members of the Concertación—approved $2. Not $2 million. Two dollars (“didn’t ask for a dime”). A major no-confidence vote—the opposition is demanding an entire “redesign” (the details of which are, naturally, sparse). The debate on the senate floor became heated between members of the Concertación (specifically aimed at Adolfo Zaldívar, a Christian Democrat who voted with the Alianza).

This makes me wonder whether any research has been done on the rise of presidential approval ratings. Anecdotally, it's clear that a) presidents often get a honeymoon period; and b) high approval ratings can drop precipitously. But how often do they rise quickly in the middle of a term? Given the depth of feeling against her and just over two years before the next election (for which she cannot stand) can she recover politically?


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