Chile’s election will hinge on economy

Former Chilean President Sebastian Pinera emerges from a voting booth during October 2016 local elections
Conservative candidate former President Sebastian Pinera has emerged as the front-runner in Chile’s upcoming presidential election (source: dpa)
  • President Bachelet’s reform efforts are stalling
  • Chileans want a new face and fresh ideas
  • Most of the main candidates are establishment figures
  • For now, the conservatives look likely to win this year’s presidential election

The second half of 2016 was a period of stagnation in Chile. In 2017, the right-wing establishment is likely to return to power, capitalizing on a sense of economic and political malaise. But if the economy improves, sparked by an increase in copper prices by $0.25 per pound or more, President Michelle Bachelet could finish her term strong, helping her New Majority (Nueva Mayoria) coalition defeat the conservatives in November’s presidential elections. President Bachelet, in office since 2014, is essentially impotent, with approval ratings in the low twenties. Though her term will not end until March 2018, the country’s attention has already shifted to the 2017 election, and Ms. Bachelet has assumed a sort of lame duck status.

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