by Charles Lemos, Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 11:24:03 PM EST
The Chilean presidential campaign is in full gear pitting the conservative Sebastián Piñera who polled 44.05 percent of the vote in the first round against Eduardo Frei, a Christian Democrat that forms part of the governing left of center La Concertación por la Democracia alliance, who polled just 29.6 percent in the first round given a split in the alliance that saw a Socialist candidate, Marco Enríquez Ominami, take 20.13 percent. Jorge Arrate, the candidate of the Chilean Communist Party (PCC), trailed with 6.21 percent.
Frei, a former President and the son of a President, now has the task re-uniting his electoral coalition that is composed of his economically left but socially conservative Christian Democratic party (DC), the Socialist party (PS), the Partido Radical Social Demócrata (PRSD) and the Partido por la Democracia (PPD). Frei is clearly trying wrap himself up as the historic heir to the center-left alliance that has governed Chile since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990.
This first ad is entitled Vamos a Vivir Mejor or "We Are Going to Live Better." In the ad, the four presidents - Patricio Aylwin (1990-1994), Eduardo Frei (1994-2000), Ricardo Lagos (2000-2005) and Michelle Bachelet (2005-2010) that have ruled Chile appear together to reinforce that message of continuity. The ad runs as "We are going to keep on growing, we are going to live better, we know that we stick together we are going to live better, today I reflect on everything that we have built as of now, it has been during these years that I learned that I could advance, and looking back we remember the path we have traveled, today I will again follow my heart."
This second ad, what spurred me to write this post, is simply remarkable. I had to do a double take and ask myself this is Chile we are talking about? Chile is a modern country and was just earlier this month invited to become the 31st member of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, a grouping of the world's most industrially advanced countries. Chile thus becomes the first member from South America and the second from Latin America (México is the other). But Chile has long been a rather socially conservative country even by South American standards. Issues like divorce (only legalized in 2004), abortion and sexual orientation have long been taboo. Santiago is a very pleasant city but a vibrant nightlife akin to other large cities in South America it does not boast. So this ad is from the Frei campaign is surprising and a measure of perhaps that change is indeed coming to once sleepy Chile. It needs no translation really.
Again the ad features the Frei campaign motto as in the above ad Vamos a vivir mejor, "we are going to live better." After the kiss by the lesbian couple, the line is simply "we all deserve the same rights."
But nothing could prepare me for this next ad, a web only spot. The ad is from the Sebastián Piñera campaign, the billionaire conservative who is making his second consecutive attempt to win the presidency and the former head of the right wing Renovación Nacional party. The spot is entitled La Voz de los sin Voz, or the "voice of the voiceless." The ad runs five minutes but at the 40 second mark Piñera who speaks in the ad is shown next to a gay couple holding hands saying "today people accepts us, now we need the country to respect us." Piñera is pledging to support civil unions for same-sex couples and to allow gay Chileans to serve in the military. But I will also note that Rolando Jiménez of the Movimiento de Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), or the Homosexual Liberation Movement, while applauding the inclusion of gay men in the Piñera campaign also found that Piñera has yet to articulate a specific plan on how he will structure gay civil unions. If you read Spanish, here is more background.
Piñera's campaign slogan is Bienvenido el cambio, or "welcome change."
Both campaigns are also making use of social media using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get their message out.