Socialist Bachelet Poised to Win in Chile
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Jan 15, 2006 at 09:09:48 AM EST
Since the fall of dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1990, Chile has continuously supported the Socialist presidential candidate, and it appears that Chilean voters will not buck this trend in today's runoff election between conservative Sebastian Piñera and socialist Michele Bachelet.
Driving around Santiago and other Chilean cities last week, one could not help but get the impression that the people were supporting Piñera. After all, hundreds of young people had taken to the streets waving large Piñera flags, and Piñera's advertising on the street at times dwarfed that of Bachelet. But the images belied the truth of the situation on the ground, as Piñera -- a billionaire with immense stakes in the nation's credit card industry, the major airline, a national television network and other areas -- was merely astroturfing.
The latest polling out of Chile indicates that once again, Chileans are ready to support the socialist candidate, with Bachelet leading by a 53-47 margin. According to The New York Times' Larry Rohter, much of this lead stems from Bachelet's promise to fix the nation's pension program, which has been gutted as a result of privatization (Chile instituted a plan similar to the one forwarded by President Bush). In another story, Rohter reports that Piñera's attempts to bring divisive social issues into the race (such as the fact that Bachelet is a single mother, and that she may support abortion) have largely failed to swing voters into his column.
For more coverage of the campaign, check out these stories from The Washington Post and the Associated Press, as well as the stories from Daily Kos reader litho (here and here). The Wikipedia also has a comprehensive artice about the election as well, for those interested.