Will Chile even need a run-off election after 17 November?
Since early August, polls have firmly placed the Socialist Party (PS) opposition candidate, Michelle Bachelet, as the favourite to win the Chilean presidential election. Voter surveys suggest that the centre-left candidate will capture 46.2 percent of votes, whereas her main rival, ruling party candidate Evelyn Matthei, will only receive 21.7 percent in the first round of the election, scheduled to take place this Sunday. The margin of error in this poll is 6 percent. The question is not so much if Bachelet will win, but when. Bachelet requires 50 percent plus one vote to win the first round outright; if she manages to achieve this on Sunday, a run-off vote scheduled for 15 December will be cancelled and the presidential race will be complete.
Weighing up the odds
Although Matthei has offered some strong economic reform proposals to sustain Chile’s economic growth of 5.5 percent, there are a number of factors that will almost certainly prevent her from assuming power. Firstly, her ties to the incumbent Pinera administration and family links to the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship make her an unpopular candidate. Secondly, Matthei was third choice as a presidential candidate for the centre-right ruling Independent Democratic Union (UDI) and her candidacy was only announced in July; indeed, some political analysts have gone so far as to predict that the UDI may only take third place in the election, behind the Humanist Party.
Bachelet, on the other hand, has the odds in her favour. She completed her 2006-2010 presidential term with a record-high public approval rating of 84 percent; thus there is a strong precedent for her popularity. In addition, her father vehemently opposed the Pinochet dictatorship. She has proposed a highly popular three-tiered approach to promote socio-economic development in the country. Firstly, she aims to tackle inequality by offering concrete plans to ensure free higher education. This would be funded by tax reform; she intends to raise the corporate tax rate from 20% to 25% over four years and lower personal income tax as well. Finally, Bachelet aims to create a new constitution for Chile (Chile has been operating on a constitution drafted by Pinochet in 1980 and has been subject to over 30 ad hoc amendments since it’s adoption).
Considering the above-mentioned factors, Bachelet is set to win the election. The Americas team has placed a friendly bet on the time frame for the imminent Bachelet victory. We are all in agreement that there is a good chance that she could get an outright win on Sunday; the odds are 1 to 2 that she manages it.
Just for fun, here are the odds for the bet represented as the delicious Chilean Almaviva blend:
*Update – Lara won the Bet. Bachelet won, but only received 47% of the vote, so a run-off is scheduled for 15 December
By Lara Sierra-Rubia, Americas analyst
Follow her on twitter: @windupthesun