Monday, December 14, 2009

Chile votes

Chileans went to the polls today in the first round of presidential elections, and seem to be on-course for a major change, with right-wing candidate Sebastián Piñera leading on 44% of the vote. That's not enough to avoid a runoff, but the fact that he is leading signifies a significant change in Chile, which has not elected a right-winger to the presidency since the return of democracy 20 years ago. In the last election, he got only 24.5%, so opinion has definitely shifted.

As for the man himself, he's a media and football billionaire who profited from Pinochet's privatisations and supported the dictatorship in the 80's. There's an obvious comparison to Italy's Berlusconi there, but he'd have to work hard to be that bad.

The runoff election will be on January 17th.

Meanwhile, the right seems to have done well in Parliamentary elections as well, with partial results indicating a bare majority in the Chamber of Deputies. Interestingly, those results also show it winning that majority with fewer votes than the opposition, thanks to Chile's unfair electoral system (d'Hondt within 2-seat districts). It clearly needs to be changed, but with the right in power, that won't be happening any time soon.