Bitter Sweet Victory for Bachelet

Carlo Angeles

Doing Politics – Bachellet´s Way

sebastian piñera matthei

This year a political event occurred, that shaped the way politicians are viewed in Latin American, general elections in Chile. Bachelet ended her presidential government with over 80% of approval and got 46.70% of votes in the first round of elections this year, having the closest contender, Evelyn Mathei, just 25.03% of votes. In the presidential run-offs, Bachelet got an overwhelming 62.16% of votes.

Route to the Power

Michelle Bachelet is the daughter of Alberto Bachelet, an air force general of Chile. She was admitted to the Medicine Faculty of one of Chile´s most prestigious universities, The University of Chile after having got one of the highest scores at the National Academic Aptitude Test. While studying at the university, she integrated the Socialist Youth, becoming close to the Popular Union Party, of governing president Salvador Allende; by this time General Alberto Bachelet (Michelle Bachelet’s father) gained influence inside Salvador Allende´s government.

By 1973, the political and economic situation in Chile become critical and diverse members of the armed forces orchestrated a coupé de etat, on the 11th of September of the same year, Salvador Allende was taken away from power. General Alberto Bachelet refused to participate.

In this context, General Alberto Bachelet was condemned and was treated as a traitor, on 1974 he died after a heart attack in which he did not received any help by paramedics while being imprisoned and tortured at the Public Prison of Santiago.

Michele Bachelet and her mother went on an exile period in Germany, returning on 1983. She entered the political on 1999 incorporating to the campaign of precandidate Ricardo Lagos. By March 11th of 2000, Ricardo Lagos was declared president and Michelle Bachelet becomes her Health Minister. Her good results under her tenure, increasing by 90% the performance and satisfaction at hospitals, made her into one of the highest approved ministers and an important asset in Ricardo´s Lagos government. In 2002, she swore as the first female Latin American Minister of Defense.

Bachelet´s first Government

On September 29 of 2004, President Ricardo Lagos announced the separation of Bachelet from his cabinet. This was seemed as an act of good will, for her to fully commit on her presidential campaign for elections the next year.

Bachelet positioned herself as the official candidate of “La Concertación Alliance” facing Sebastian Piñera of “Renovación Nacional” as her closest contender.  On January 16th, 2006, she became, Chile´s first female president in 169 years as an independent country.

Her government was focused on social policy, integrating education (were she suffered several back draws), health and job opportunities. She gave free attention on hospitals to people over 60 years old, and set a goal of reaching 97% of the population over 65 years old, for them to have a pension.

Bachelet first government started with a high level of citizen support, having a 60% of approbation. During her tenure, she had a relatively stable support, and by the end of her government, she left “La Moneda” ( Chile´s government palace) with a massive approbation of 84%. A huge success.

Sebastian Piñera and Bachelet´s Post Presidency

Sebastian Piñera, a successful businessman became the world´s 10th richest president (with a net worth of 2.4 billion USD) on January 17th 2010.

Piñera has a long history both in business and political fields. Having earned a Phd on Economics at Harvard University, he returned to Chile and on the 70´s he introduced the credit card business on Chile, which along several good investments in Media (Chilevision) Sports (Colo Colo, one of the most popular soccer teams in Chile), Transportation (LAN Airlines) and Infrastructure.

On the political field, he was active on political party Christian Democracy since his years as a student at Chile´s Catholic University. On, the 1988 plebiscite he voted against Pinochet´s government. By, 1990 he was elected senator.

On 1992, a scandal involved Piñera in which he was recorded talking on the phone to a person who he give instructions to discredit Evelyn Matthei, a presidential pre candidate in Piñera´s Party.

After being elected on 2010, Piñera faced tense relations with Peru Government, for the extradition of Alberto Fujimori (Former Peruvian President charged of corruption) in 2007. In Piñera´s government he managed to reconcile differences with Peru, and under his government, he faced the demand of the Peruvian state at The Hague International Court, for the delimitation of the sea space.

He created the Ministry of Social Development which managed over 300 social programs and he reorganized the Interior Ministry and gave it a new denomination, being called now Public Security and Interior Ministry.

The unemployment rate fell to a historical 6.4% in 2012. He had a relatively stable approbation rate, until the 2011 education protests in which 400,000 people marched for a better quality of education and more fair tuition prices. The main speakers of the movement were Camila Vallejo, Gabriel Boric and Giorgio Jackson (now all representatives at Chile´s Congress).

The protests captured attention worldwide, being chosen Camila Vallejo as the person of the year by The Guardian UK. Even president Piñera had meetings with the movement main speakers.

This protests cost Piñera several changes in his cabinet, and even now the protests have not concluded yet, but they do not have nearly the impact they had on 2011.

While this was happening in Chile, Bachellet was designated by the United Nations Secretary General, to preside UN Women. On march 15th, 2013 Bachellet resigned and returned to Chile.

Second Presidency

Michelle Bachellet arrived to Chile on March 27th. That same night, on an community event she officially announced her candidacy as President. Bachellet charisma and personality secured her as a strong presidential nominee.

Sebastian Piñera, had her own nominee, her former Minister of Work and Social Prevention, Evelyn Matthei (yes, the one from the 90´s Piñeragate).

Matthei could not stand the popularity of Bachellet and at the elections she fell to a Bachellet with over 62,16% of the votes, a wide margin.

With Bachellet, Camila Vallejo was elected as representative for La Florida District under Bachellet´s party (Vallejo was criticized as she against Bachellet in her years as a university student). Another leader of the protests of 2011 was elected, Giorgio Jackson, which presented himself as an independent candidate but had support from Bachellet´s Party, as they chose not to present any candidate in that district.

Elections are over, Chile has a new president. This election leaves us a Latin American with most center – left based government, in Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brasil, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Cuba, Guatemala and El Salvador.