Monday, January 18, 2010

The right wins in Chile

Chileans went to the polls today for the second round of presidential elections, and for the first time since the restoration of democracy in 1990, elected a right-winger. Media and football billionaire Sebastián Piñera will become Chile's first democratically-elected right-wing leader for almost half a century.

While this looks to be a significant shift, its worth noting that (as here) the right only won after promising to continue the left's social policies. Unfortunately, with a bar on successive terms as President, the public has no effective way to hold Piñera to that promise - any electoral backlash will be inflicted on someone else. This seems to be an exceptionally poor incentive structure for a democracy.

Meanwhile, outgoing president Michelle Bachelet will leave office with a ridiculously high approval rating. She could almost certainly have another go in four years time if she wanted to - the question is whether she wants to, or whether a single term is enough.