Former President Bachelet poised to regain the office amid public discontent in Chile election | Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles
The streets of Santiago are lined with political campaign posters as Chile readies itself for its general election on Sunday. It is the country’s most important election since it voted ‘No’ to Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990.
A resurgent left has set the agenda for the election seizing on the unpopularity of Sebastian Piñera’s government and a fragmented right-wing. The left’s programme is ambitious, focussing on big-ticket items such as the creation of a new constitution, reform of the tax system, and education.
Michelle Bachelet, leader of ‘La Nueva Mayoria’ centre left coalition, remains by far the front-runner. The popular former President returned home earlier this year, after a stint at the UN in New York, to a hero’s welcome and sky-high approval ratings.
Her main rival, the right’s Evelyn Matthei, has struggled to build any campaign momentum and has faced regular questions over whether her military officer father played a role in the death of Bachelet’s father. The men had been peers in the armed forces but Alberto Bachelet’s loyalty to Salvador Allende led to his imprisonment, torture, and eventual death.
With the odds stacked in her favour, it comes as no surprise that Bachelet is expected to win – if the job is not hers by the end of Sunday, it is expected to be by the second round of voting in December (Chilean general elections require the victor to obtain an outright majority).