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Chile’s Elections
A Bend in the River?
Deepak Bhojwani

heading the newly-formed United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in the interim. Changes in Chile Chile had changed somewhat. Another Chilean woman, Camila Vallejo, far younger and more radical, an avowed communist, was the face of a popular uprising since 2009. Most young Chileans are seeking reform of the public higher education system, which they say should be free. Bachelet recognised the depth of feeling and the political strength of this movement. Her New Majority coalition includes Vallejo’s Communist Party among its six constituents. Evelyn Matthei, candidate of the Independent Democratic Union, the party of outgoing President Sebastián Piñera, scored 25.01% of the vote in the first round on 17 November, against Bachelet’s 46.69%. She represented the conventional right, heading the two-party Alliance for Chile coalition. In November Chile also voted for elections to the Congress – senate, and chamber of deputies – and 278 members of regional boards (local government bodies). The New Majority did well in

Michelle Bachelet has been voted to power as president of Chile after a four-year gap on the back of a popular yearning for reform and with the support of a coalition of left and centre-left to make the country a more equitable society. She has promised a new constitution and an overhaul of healthcare and higher education, and greater taxation of the wealthy.

Deepak Bhojwani (bhojwani@latindiaconsult. com) is a former Indian ambassador to Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba and has served in Brazil as consul-general.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW

he Chilean presidential elections on 15 December gave Michelle Bachelet a resounding victory with over 62% of the votes cast, while her challenger, Evelyn Matthei got just under 38%. Bachelet, a pediatrician by profession, and a consummate politician, will be president again for four years from March 2014; she was earlier president during 2006-10. Michelle Bachelet’s father was persecuted and tortured by the brutal regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s. Herself a victim of that regime, she became president of Chile in 2006 at the head of the Concertación (SocialistChristian Democratic) coalition for four years. Unable to seek immediate reelection under Chilean law, she returned earlier this year to a landslide primary endorsement by her supporters, after
vol xlix no 1


january 4, 2014

and pan-regional Latin American organisations. The contents of the CD-ROM are organised as in the print edition.Rs 1500 Institutions . pensions. and all eligible voters were automatically enrolled. During that decade. retained their hold over the system. It has over 60 free trade agreements. rule-bound economy. The ancien regime ensured a transition over a decade after the referendum of 1988. of quality. India and Chile confront common issues of democratic governance. Popular Demand for Equity Despite growth rates averaging well over 5% during its tenure. It. 2005. For the regional boards. the left-wing constituents fought under their own lists and did almost as well as the other members of the New Majority. will not tolerate a return to what they consider a compromise-prone Concertación government. saw only 50% turn up to vote. largely because of enlightened and pragmatic policies and entrepreneurial dynamism. The Indian establishment would do well to observe how Chile addresses its social problems while steering a steady economic course. Economic and Political Weekly 320-321. 26 Most businessmen do not want to turn the clock back. Mumbai 400 013. the centrist channel. with articles laid out in individual sections in each issue. This time. corporate and public sector executives and journalists. across the industrial and service spectrum. Chile’s political economy did not make a radical break from the policies of the dictatorship when the Concertación coalition took power in 1990. Bachelet is convinced Chile’s politicians have lost touch with the masses and intends to reconnect. which Pinochet lost. It has 21 of the 38 senate seats and 67 of the 120 seats in the chamber of deputies. She preferred “constitutional evolution” to a new charter. Yet more seek opportunities in this stable. Bachelet’s election is a victory for the centre-left in Chile. going up from $2. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. which seeks institutional ties with India. Chile’s economy did well. She does not have enough seats in Congress to change the constitution. Vallejo and other leftist candidates won election to the chamber of deputies.Rs 2500 To order the CD-ROM send a bank draft payable at Mumbai in favour of Economic and Political Weekly. India was the first port of call for the collective leadership of CELAC. Its regional diplomacy has been measured but has not succeeded in resolving pending disputes with neighbours Bolivia and Peru. Any queries please email: circulation@epw. However. A to Z Industrial Estate. This pan-regional grouping includes all 33 states of Latin America and the Caribbean. employment and law and order. India Economic & Political Weekly january 4. The first round of the election. Trade is brisk. Price for 5 year CD-ROM (in INDIA) Individuals . Chile is the only country in the Americas with which India has a preferential trade agreement (there is a less comprehensive agreement with the five-nation Mercosur in South America). students. it has stayed aloof from regional trade groupings. EPW 5-Year CD-ROM 2004-08 on a Single Disk The digital versions of Economic and Political Weekly for 2004. Bachelet’s victory in the second round was taken for granted. The second round saw an abstention of 53% of the 13. is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Matthei too advocated most of the reforms Bachelet sought. participates actively in the regional political organisations. in which voting for the first time was not mandatory. With its easy-to-use features. Though vastly different political economies. TransPacific Partnership. Several Indian companies are present in Chile. including the military. 2006.7 billion in 2012-13. researchers and executives in government and non-government organisations. Ganpatrao Kadam Marg. the CD-ROM will be a convenient resource for social scientists. may well have to bend further to the left to accommodate rising aspirations and demands for Circulation Manager. Lower Parel. Widely considered a developed country. Chile’s foreign minister visited India in August 2012 at the head of a delegation of the newly-formed Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). with some differences of methodology and degree. on which Chile’s helmsmen have navigated. however. Chile is also the Latin American country most connected to the outside world. Bachelet has advocated a new constitution to replace the one imposed by Pinochet in 1980 “based in our democratic traditions: in the doctrinal development and the experiences of modern democracy of the Western world…” She has also called for “an education system that is free. Under Chile’s presidency in 2012. Significantly. the Christian Democrats held the presidency. however. the wealthiest 5% today earn 257 times more than the poorest 5%. Interestingly.6 billion in 2011-12 to $3. The CD-ROM contains the complete text of 261 issues published from 2004 to 2008 and comes equipped with a powerful search. 2007 and 2008 are now available on a single disk. tools to help organise research and utilities to make your browsing experience productive. social and political activists. and that does not seek profits…” Other ideas include tax reform – more on business less on individuals – and reforms in areas of healthcare.COMMENTARY both houses.6 million eligible voters. Vallejo and her cohorts. 2014 vol xlix no 1 EPW . There were some aberrations. the outgoing Piñera regime seems to have paid the price for ignoring the groundswell of popular feeling for more equity. Easier said than done. however. during which several elements.