A Decisive Victory in Chile's Presidential Election May Prove Insufficient for Reform

18-12-2013

As expected, Michelle Bachelet, the candidate of the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista, PS) and the centre-left coalition New Majority (Nueva Mayoría, NM), obtained a clear victory in Chile's presidential elections. Bachelet's resounding victory underscored voters' disapproval of the current centre-right government. However, Bachelet did not - as expected - win in the first round of the elections. A high abstention rate means that she received a relatively low number of votes. The high number of candidates points to the loss of legitimacy of the two political alliances which have dominated Chilean politics for more than two decades. The five parties in the NM will have a solid majority in the Congress. In the Chamber of Deputies, they won the largest majority for a governing alliance since 1997, partly thanks to the inclusion of the Communist Party of Chile (Partido Comunista de Chile, PC). The two blocs' share of the vote and their seats in Congress has been remarkably stable since 1989, largely because Chile's bi-nominal electoral system favours two major coalitions. The elections took place against a background of social unrest - particularly the students' protests - and a general quest for renewal in Chilean society. The NM, advocating comprehensive social and political reforms, turned to the left. Michelle Bachelet and the NM announced a programme with three foci: educational reform, tax reform , and the adoption of a new constitution. However, Bachelet's government will not have a sufficient majority in Congress to adopt the necessary legislation unless the centreright opposition agrees. If only limited reform is possible, unfulfilled expectations could be a major challenge in the coming years. Decelerating economic growth could be another challenge, particularly if combined with lowered international prices on copper, Chile's main export commodity. Agreement on the upgrade of the EU-Chile Association Agreement form 2002 may be reached in the coming years.

As expected, Michelle Bachelet, the candidate of the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista, PS) and the centre-left coalition New Majority (Nueva Mayoría, NM), obtained a clear victory in Chile's presidential elections. Bachelet's resounding victory underscored voters' disapproval of the current centre-right government. However, Bachelet did not - as expected - win in the first round of the elections. A high abstention rate means that she received a relatively low number of votes. The high number of candidates points to the loss of legitimacy of the two political alliances which have dominated Chilean politics for more than two decades. The five parties in the NM will have a solid majority in the Congress. In the Chamber of Deputies, they won the largest majority for a governing alliance since 1997, partly thanks to the inclusion of the Communist Party of Chile (Partido Comunista de Chile, PC). The two blocs' share of the vote and their seats in Congress has been remarkably stable since 1989, largely because Chile's bi-nominal electoral system favours two major coalitions. The elections took place against a background of social unrest - particularly the students' protests - and a general quest for renewal in Chilean society. The NM, advocating comprehensive social and political reforms, turned to the left. Michelle Bachelet and the NM announced a programme with three foci: educational reform, tax reform , and the adoption of a new constitution. However, Bachelet's government will not have a sufficient majority in Congress to adopt the necessary legislation unless the centreright opposition agrees. If only limited reform is possible, unfulfilled expectations could be a major challenge in the coming years. Decelerating economic growth could be another challenge, particularly if combined with lowered international prices on copper, Chile's main export commodity. Agreement on the upgrade of the EU-Chile Association Agreement form 2002 may be reached in the coming years.