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Chile - 2013 General Election

Chilean politics, and especially the Concertacion, was described in recent years as stale, boring, and inflexible. Despite frequent public conversations about how to renew and refresh the political system, include younger leaders in prominent roles, encourage young people to vote, and battle small-scale corruption, the political system seemed to be frozen in place. Pinera's election shattered this calcified system.

But Pinera, a billionaire whose stand-offish manner contrasted with Bachelet's common touch, was an unpopular president and faced a surge in popular discontent with many of the poor feeling they had not benefited from Chile's copper riches. Pinera announced cuts in the education budget in early 2011. Demonstrators looted stores, barricaded streets, set fires and threw rocks during protests against President Sebastian Pinera's policies. Pinochet's legacy lives on in a privatized education system, the subject of regular student protests, which Bachelet pledged to reform.

By late 2013, Michelle Bachelet seemed a safe bet to return to power in Chile's presidential election. Bachelet had between 30-40 percent support in polls, well ahead of her nearest opponent, Evelyn Matthei of the rightist Alianza coalition, who was polling between 12-23 percent. With seven other candidates standing in the first round of voting on 17 November 2013 a run-off in December seemed certain, which Bachelet should comfortably win. The moderate socialist got nearly 47 percent of the vote, conservative Evelyn Matthei won 25 percent. Her Nueva Mayoria coalition includes moderate leftists and communists, the later brought in for the first time in hopes their links with protesters and community groups would help keep the peace.

Bachelet pledged to address social inequalities, increase corporate taxes, close tax loopholes, and spend more on healthcare She also promised to reform an education system that favored those who can pay, something that had been the focus of sometimes violent student protests. She also wanted a new constitution that would reduce the high number of votes needed to pass laws, introduce a new electoral system that is more representative of voting patterns, and lure more women into politics.

But Bachelet's coalition seemed unlikely to win the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution. All 120 lower house seats and 20 out of 38 Senate seats were also being contested. Bachelet's coalition won 51 percent of the votes in the Senate and 48 percent in the lower chamber.

Chileans handed moderate socialist former President Michelle Bachelet a new four-year term with a landslide victory in a runoff election December 15, 2013. Center-right opponent Evelyn Matthei conceded defeat after the results showed Bachelet received an unbeatable 62 percent of the vote. Matthei had 38 percent. Bachelet would take over in March from outgoing conservative President Sebastian Pinera.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet asked all her Cabinet ministers to submit their resignations on 07 May 2015 while she decides who stays and who leaves in the next 72 hours. Bachelet was faced with the lowest approval ratings of her political career, and acknowledged that corruption scandals had rocked her administration. Chile's corruption is among the lowest in South America. But trust in politicians and the business elite had been eroded amid a recent bank loan scandal involving Bachelet's son, as well as a campaign financing scandal involving right-wing politicians and a prominent financial company.

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Page last modified: 26-03-2020 18:53:01 ZULU