Monday, July 1st 2013 - 05:47 UTC

Chile's Bachelet easily beats rivals for new presidential bid

Former Chilean leader Michelle Bachelet steamed toward another presidential bid on Sunday with a lopsided primary win that prompted her center-left rivals to concede early in the evening and vow to support her in the November election.

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet won by 73.05%

On the right, former Economy Minister Pablo Longueira will face an uphill battle against Bachelet, after he beat out rival Andres Allamand.

Bachelet, 61, who led Chile as its first female president from 2006 to 2010, received 73.07 percent of the vote, with 99.7 percent of the vote counted. Her two closest rivals in the primary, Andres Velasco and Claudio Orrego, conceded defeat on national television.

”We'll keep fighting until November 17 to get to the Moneda (presidential palace) in 2014,“ Bachelet told cheering supporters.

The presidential election is scheduled for November 17 and a second round of voting would be held in mid December if the front-runner does not get more than half of the votes.

A pediatrician turned politician and single mother of three, Bachelet is widely expected to win back the presidency.

”The big winner tonight is Bachelet and the big losers are Allamand and Longueira, she got twice as many votes as they did ... the race in November will be for second place and not for first because if Bachelet doesn't win in the first round, she'll win the run-off election,“ said Patricio Navia, professor at New York University and Universidad Diego Portales.

Bachelet received over 1.5 million votes, compared with Longueria's 413,000 and Allamand's 391,000, according to preliminary figures.

A victim of torture during Chile's dictatorship, Bachelet was one of the country's most unusual presidents since its return to democracy in 1990. After leaving office she served as the head of U.N. Women, the United Nations' gender equality body.

Chile's present leader is Sebastian Pinera, a wealthy businessman who has struggled to connect with ordinary Chileans and is barred from running for immediate re-election.

Voters from Pinera's conservative Alianza coalition gave Longueira 51.35 percent, versus former Defense Minister Allamand's 48.64 percent, according to preliminary figures.

”Having won these primaries in two months is the best proof that if we get to work tomorrow we're going to win the presidential election in November,” said a jubilant Longueira.

 He took the place of businessman Laurence Golborne midway through the primary campaign, after Golborne abandoned his candidacy over a billing scandal and allegations of undeclared offshore assets.

Longueira is hampered by having served under unpopular Pinera, who broke 20 years of uninterrupted center-left rule when he took power in 2010. Longueira's close relationship to ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet, is also seen as an impediment to a presidential run.

Bachelet has promised to tackle Chile's steep economic inequality by raising corporate taxes to fund free university-level education and push for a new constitution to replace the one created under Pinochet in 1980.

However, she is not expected to stray far from the market-friendly economic policies that have helped make Chile one of the most stable countries in the region.

Nearly twice as many voters as forecast turned out on Sunday, which analysts have said bodes well for Bachelet in November.

Analysts had cautioned that turnout has been a wild card since voting became voluntary last year, as opposed to mandatory, and that disenchantment with the political establishment could keep many voters at home.

Chile, the world's top copper-exporting nation, is ranked the most unequal country in the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Bachelet, who belongs to the socialist party, expanded welfare programs during her rule but did little to disturb the country's free-market economic policies.

She appears to have swung further left since leaving office, however, in line with escalating demands by students and workers. Some of her proposed social policies - which include legalizing abortion in select cases and authorizing gay marriage - would mark a big change for traditionally conservative Chile.

Education is a crucial electoral issue as well because students, parents and teachers have taken to the streets over the past two years to press for free and improved education.

Many Chileans voted in high school buildings that were occupied for weeks by students demanding education reform. They were evicted by police on Thursday.

Candidates from smaller parties or independents, who will not participate in the primaries but are slated to be on the presidential ballot, could push the November election to a run-off. Whoever is elected will take office in March 2014. (Reuters)


27 comments Feed

Note: Comments do not reflect MercoPress’ opinions. They are the personal view of our users. We wish to keep this as open and unregulated as possible. However, rude or foul language, discriminative comments (based on ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or the sort), spamming or any other offensive or inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. Please report any inadequate posts to the editor. Comments must be in English. Thank you.

1 ChrisR (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 11:16 am Report abuse
Step one done in fine fashion.
2 Sergio Vega (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 01:28 pm Report abuse
The real poll date is November 17th, so please don´t sing victory yet......

We expect to have a very tight final in a second round later on tha last election on 2009.

There are almost 5 month to that date, so the campaigns will get louder, harder and more expensive.....Hope the result means the better for us like the last four years....
3 Condorito (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 01:54 pm Report abuse
I am disappointed, I wanted Allamand.
Longueira will have to move much closer to the center to stand a chance - he is just too conservative.
4 Think (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 05:48 pm
Comment removed by the editor.
5 Briton (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 05:54 pm Report abuse
Will she be an opponent of CFK of a friend?

Will she be friendly to the Falklands or back CFK over flights..

just a thought.
6 ChrisR (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 06:19 pm Report abuse
@5 Briton

Unlike 'hug a hoodie' Dave she will most certainly do what's best for Chile.
7 Heisenbergcontext (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 06:59 pm Report abuse
@3 Condorito:

Always enjoy reading your thoughtful posts, so I have to ask: why not Ms Bachelet?
8 Think (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 07:01 pm Report abuse
Vote for Bachelet or vote for…..
Vitacura, Las Condes y Lo Barnechea……
This will be much easier than I ever expected…..

Viva Mami, mierda!
Chuckle chuckle©
9 Condorito (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 08:04 pm Report abuse
7 Heisenberg
I am not entirely against Mami Bachelet.
We have been very lucky that in the 20 years post Pinochet, the ruling (nominally) centre-left coalition that ruled Chile, never deviated from the Büchi’s (Pinochet era minister) liberal reforms. In fact they pursued his road map with great zeal in many areas and were very prudent in balancing the budget.

3 years ago, Piñera from the center-right assumed control and despite a spluttery start and some gaffs, he has done a splendid job: more growth, more employment, more investment - all by a wide margin. In addition he faced up to social issues that Bachelet ducked: he changed the tax system to put $100s millions more into education and pushed through a reform to stop the military taking 10% of CODELCO's sales which was welcomed even by the thinking left.

So, to answer your question, Bachelet was not bad, she was just less good than Piñera...and if you compare her to the lunatic running the country on the other side of the Andes, she is a godsend.
10 ElaineB (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 08:11 pm Report abuse
@9 Exactly! It makes me smile that some Argentinian malcontents cling to Bachelet as if she is a Marxist demigod. She is slightly left of centre as Pinera is slightly right of centre. Both are firmly welded to a free market economy.
11 Heisenbergcontext (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 08:16 pm Report abuse
@10 Condorito:
Thanks - now I understand a bit better. I find her resume and heritage remarkable and her life story is simply astounding. What a life she's led! Our politicians seem monochromatic by comparison.
12 Condorito (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 08:37 pm Report abuse
11 Heisenberg:
You're welcome. Mami is not alone in her remarkable life story. She is one of a generation of politicians who were either tortured, had their parents killed, or both. The most admirable aspect of Chilean political leadership of the last two decades has been the priority of pragmatism over vindictiveness.

As Abraham Lincoln said:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”
13 Think (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 08:43 pm Report abuse

As I said on these pages over one year ago……:
Camila Amaranta,”

Call me a Dreamer....... ;-)))
14 Condorito (#) Jul 01st, 2013 - 10:40 pm Report abuse
13 Think:
Backing a dead cert hot favorite doesn't make you a dreamer...
backing a red hot Red favorite does.
15 ElaineB (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 02:18 am Report abuse
Given that Ms Bachelet had an approval rate over 80% when she left office, it would not take a visionary to predict her return. She did address some of the social inequalities but she neglected business causing the economy to stagnate. Pinera used his business acumen to address the problem whilst still having an eye to social inclusion.

I am, and have stated here many time, a huge admirer of Ms Bachelet. She is a great role model for women unlike the crazy, mentally unstable woman failing miserably as president of Argentina.

Talking to folks here in Chile, I think it will be a close run election.
16 Ayayay (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 05:01 am Report abuse
I get a good feeling from Bachelet and from Chile. I think they are going to keep to a center, oscillating center right and center left.
17 Britworker (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 07:21 am Report abuse
Coming from a perspective of ignorance where this woman is concerned, is she likely to be a positive, negative or indifferent influence on the Falkland Islanders?
18 ElaineB (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 12:04 pm Report abuse
She didn't do anything to help the Kirchners during her last presidency.
19 Think (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 04:15 pm Report abuse
(12) Condorito

You say...:
“The most admirable aspect of Chilean political leadership of the last two decades has been the priority of pragmatism over vindictiveness.”

In the same spirit I must say....:
The most admirable aspect of Argentinean political leadership of the last decade has been the priority of justice over pragmatism.
20 ChrisR (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 04:49 pm Report abuse
The classic oxymoron; Argentine 'leasership' and the 'priority of justice'.

The next one will be TMBOA and honesty. Ha, ha, ha.

I should keep out of the microstill, it looks to me like you are drinking the profits.
21 Ayayay (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 06:42 pm Report abuse
Justice means judgement. Not the most awesome.

Anyway, does anyone know the median wage of Chile compared to Argentina? I can find average gross salary of Chile.and average net salary of Argentina, but idk if this accounts for Chileans working more days.

I think the discussion about equality is sometimes a distraction, seeing as places like Afghanistan (and prolly North Korea, they have no data) have the most.

22 bushpilot (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 06:50 pm Report abuse
“has been the priority of justice over pragmatism.”

And now nobody has toilet paper.

Are the Argentines going to get any justice for CFK & her people pilfering the Argentine coffers? Or is that just not feasible, not workable, not pragmatic? Pragmatism over justice.
23 Condorito (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 08:05 pm Report abuse
19 Think
With so many of you guilty of so many crimes, more justice is only pragmatic ;)
24 Think (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 09:11 pm Report abuse
(23) Condorito

So very true, my Shilean hermanito.......
With so many of us guilty of so many crimes....., more justice is not only pragmatic...., but fundamental.
25 Mastershake (#) Jul 02nd, 2013 - 09:12 pm Report abuse
Chileans can convert their money into any currency. They can use their money abroad without paying some 30 percent in fees/taxes to withdraw abroad, filling out paperwork, running a risk of being denied altogether, and be limited to 100 dollars a day. Chileans can invest, spend, convert as they please, and they pay far less tax even if they lived the way Cristina wants her slaves to live.
Not to mention how insanely expensive Argentina has become, and the fact that imports are more expensive in Argentina than anywhere else in the world.

Really there's no comparison, if Argies and Chileans are making the exact same amount (they're not, Chileans make more) Argies have to pay between 30 to 200 percent more to afford the same life and material goods.
26 ManRod (#) Jul 03rd, 2013 - 01:16 am Report abuse
@ 21 Ayayay:
“Anyway, does anyone know the median wage of Chile compared to Argentina?”

Salaries are almost equal. Depending on if you consider official and fixed argentine currency exchange, its higher in Arg, and if you consider the free market blue dollar, its lower than the median Chilean average.

According an article I found from 2012, it's 390.000 pesos in Chile, which is about 800 dolars a month. Average household income is about 770.000 pesos, about 1600 dolars a month.

In Argentina, the median wage is 5300 ARS.

Eventhough... you must consider the life costs in Argentina are exploding at the moment, so I assume life has become more expensive in Argentina than in Chile.
27 Islander1 (#) Jul 03rd, 2013 - 01:52 am Report abuse
Britworker- She will make little difference to Chile,s policy over the Falklands.
Chile,s policy is simple- Chile is happy doing business with and trading and having links with the Falklands and recognizes de facto the existence of its Govt and people- as do the great majority of Chilean people. Chile is also a long term friend of UK and many Chileans regard themselves as the “Brits” of S America.
But any Chilean Govt will quietly tell you - please look at the map. With a 5000km plus border with a country led by a lunatic- for the sake of peace and quiet and a hassle free day - we have to humour them a bit for now.
We understand their reality here dont worry!

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!


Get Email News Reports!

Get our news right on your inbox.
Subscribe Now!