Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, OAS, said on Thursday he plans to run for the presidency of his native Chile, where the ruling centre-left coalition is faltering in polls.
Insulza arrived in Santiago on Thursday to meet with the bloc of parties which make up the Concertacion coalition that has ruled Chile since 1990 at the end of the 1973-1990 dictatorship of the late General Augusto Pinochet. "Yes, I want to be president of Chile", said Insulza to a Santiago television station which in effect means he will have to quit his OAS post and begin campaigning for the December 2009 general election. "I am going to take things one step at a time," Insulza told Chile's Radio Cooperativa. "I am going to talk to everybody and do what needs to be done. This is just the beginning. Elections are still a year away". Insulza belongs to the Socialist party, which together with the Christian Democrats are the senior members of the ruling coalition. President Michelle Bachelet's ruling Concertacion has not yet chosen a candidate for the 2009 presidential race. The Concertacion's front-running hopeful, former president Ricardo Lagos (Socialist) pulled out of the race last week. Another former president, Eduardo Frei, (Christian Democrat) is now seen as the Concertacion's lead candidate, while Insulza is seen appealing to the harder left of the coalition. Insulza was Interior Minister under former president Frei. "There are no conditions tied to my pre candidacy, but I won't accept conditions either", he pointed out. The ruling coalition has been battered in recent months as popular protests and scandals divided its ranks and the political right surged in mid term municipal elections and public opinion polls to levels not seen since Pinochet was ousted from power. The different groups of the ruling coalition have agreed to hold primaries next April. Bachelet is not eligible to run for re-election. Polls tip a centre-right billionaire, Sebastian Piñera of the Alianza coalition, to win the presidential election, although analysts say that in order to do that he will have to forge alliances with centrist independents. The first round of voting begins in December 2009. In order to run for president of Chile, Insulza would have to leave his post in January at the Washington-based OAS, which is made up of 35 states of the Americas and is the world's oldest regional organization.