Monday, June 23, 2008

Chilean presidential candidates

Michelle Bachelet pushed through a new education bill, and it turns out that José Miguel Insulza had to call a few members of the legislature to twist arms. They wanted Ricardo Lagos to do the same, but somehow he was unable because he was on his way to Canada. I couldn’t help wonder if this news tidbit was an intentional boost for the former and slap on the latter, especially since Bachelet is not happy at being blamed for things like Transantiago that started under Lagos’ watch, and Lagos has not stepped up to accept any responsibility.

Both are contenders to be the Concertación’s next presidential candidate (the election is in 2009). Pato Navia argues here that the position is Lagos’ to lose. He’s popular, sufficiently leftist for the left, and sufficiently moderate for moderates. Pato also discusses former president Frei, who is also in the mix, but questions whether he can generate enough enthusiasm.

Lastly, there is Soledad Alvear, who bowed out in favor of Bachelet the last time around. A question that comes up when I am talking with other Chileanists is whether being a woman will hurt her, since the current president is a woman and not very popular. I think this is a strong possibility, but have not seen polls.

I would just say that it is a sad state of affairs that two of the contenders are former presidents. However, I understand the strategic calculation. Bachelet was a new face, and her administration is not going well, so the official reaction is to circle the wagons and advance a familiar figure. But where is the rejuvenation of the Concertación?


Tambopaxi 8:46 PM  

This is sad. The best that Chilean democracy can produce is two retreads?

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