Monday, October 27, 2008

Chilean municipal elections

Chile had municipal elections yesterday, which were widely touted as providing clues about the direction of the 2009 presidential election. The Concertación shows clear signs of strain. For example, for mayoral positions, it won 38.43% of the total vote, versus 40.49% for the Alianza (the coalition of the right). It did, though, win 45-39% for city councils (down one point from 2004).

Senator, former president, and once-again presidential aspirant Eduardo Frei argued that the weak showing demonstrated that the Concertación needs to have open primaries for a single candidate. Meanwhile, presidential candidate Sebastián Piñera boldly claimed that if the Alianza won this election, "we think we'll win the presidential elections."

These elections do not tell us much we didn't know before. It is a familiar story--the Concertación is sagging under the weight of 18 years of rule, but the Alianza simply cannot land any sort of political knockout punch. Polls show that, as of now, the election is the Alianza's (and presumably Piñera's) to lose. But a year is a very long time.

Some trivia: Lucía Pinochet, daughter of the dictator, was elected to city council in Vitacura, the richest part of Santiago.


Benjamin N. Gedan 5:56 PM  

It's been very interesting to watch the way Uruguay's Frente Amplio coalition is working to find its consensus candidate for next year's election after having traveled in Chile recently and seen the Concertación's circular firing squad take aim.

On Saturday night, the two leading contenders for the Frente Amplio, former Finance Minister Danilo Astori and Sen. Jose Mujica, appeared at a rally together in Rosario, standing arm in arm and vowing that the party's victory next October is more important than any individual candidate.

Compare that to the way former President Lagos has been going after President Bachelet in Chile and you see why the Concertación may face an uphill battle in attempting to stay in power.

Greg Weeks 7:19 AM  

The Concertacion was more like that at the beginning. The question is whether the Frente Amplio could keep that up for over a decade more.

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