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Bachelet's First year as President of Chile

The first woman to be elected president in Chile, Michelle Bachelet, has made it through her first year as head of state. General opinion said that several situations made it not easy, including the education strike and delay in implementing the new transportation system that is still receiving mixed reaction from the population.

El Chere of EquinoXio [ES] gives an overview in numbers:

¿Qué sugiere cuando una Presidenta tiene uno de los niveles de popularidad más bajos de la región (cerca del 38%), uno de los promedios más mediocres desde la vuelta de Chile a la democracia (3,8 en escala del 1 al 7) y ha debido hacer frente a constantes crisis tanto políticas (con su coalición) como estructurales y sociales?

What does it imply when a President has one of the lowest levels of popularity in the region (near 38%), one of the most mediocre since the return of democracy in Chile (3.8 from a 1 to 7 scale) and has had to confront constant political (from her own party), structural, and social crises.

Andrés Sanfuentes reminds us [ES] of the five areas that Bachelet proposed to focus on before she was elected.

“El Programa de Gobierno de Bachelet plantea cinco áreas temáticas, lo cual ayuda a ordenar las preocupaciones principales:

1.) Una nueva red de protección social.
2.) Condiciones para un salto al desarrollo.
3.) Un programa para mejorar la calidad de vida de los chilenos.
4.) El combate contra la discriminación y la exclusión.
5.) Un nuevo trato para los ciudadanos en todos los aspectos de la acción pública.”

The government programme of Michelle Bachelet proposes five thematic areas, which helps prioritize the main concerns:

1.) A new social net protection
2.) Conditions to jump for Development
3.) A programme to improve Chileans life quality
4.) A combat against discriminations and exclusion
5.) A new treat for the citizens in all the aspects of the public action.

Andrea Henríquez [ES] reveals a perspective shared by many which, in some ways, touches on the 5 thematic areas that Bachelet proposes:

A pesar de que en el 2006 el crecimiento económico fue de 4, 2%, el más bajo de los últimos tres años, las exportaciones aumentaron, impulsadas por el récord histórico que alcanzó el precio del cobre.

En comparación con el gobierno anterior, durante el primer año de gestión de Bachelet el desempleo bajó y la inversión en salud, vivienda y educación aumentó. También se impulsaron medidas a favor de la paridad de género y se presentó en el congreso una propuesta de reforma al sistema previsional.

Desde el inicio de su mandato las encuestas otorgaban a Michelle Bachelet un amplio respaldo, sin embargo, durante los últimos meses la tendencia ha sido a la baja. Según la encuesta de la empresa Adimark, la aprobación durante febrero fue de un 49,3%.

Even thought the economic grow of 2006 was 4.2%, the lowest in the last three years, exports increased because of the historically high price of copper.

Compared to previous administrations, during the first year of Bachelet's management the unemployment rate went down and investment in health, housing, and education increased. She also pushed through legislation on gender equality and a proposal to congress to reform the retirement system.

From the beginning of her term of office, the survey gives Michelle Bachellet plenty of support even though the last few months the tendency has been less positive. According to a survey by Adimark, the approval rating from February was 49.3%.

Bachelet had to deal with deep problems in her first year.  A crisis in the educational system that ended with a national students strike, a new system of transportation, the missing detainee wrongly identified that awoke human rights sensibilities, and the death of Pinochet last December without a general concern about how to deal with his controversial historical legacy. Furthermore, the left wing coalition crisis – spawned by several corruption scandals – also contributed to her loss of popular support. Bachelet was sworn in with exaggerated hope that she would bring a new era of cleaner politics to Chile. It remains to be seen whether or not she can overcome the obstacles of her first year in office to fulfill her five central objectives that were repeated so often during her campaign.

1 comment

  • Hi
    When a government is elected with such promise, many people have high and possibly unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished.

    After centuries of corruption and anti-democratic actions, real change will take time. I stand in solidarity with Chileans who have the courage to create a future based on equality, respect for human rights and sovreignty.

    Paul Chislett
    Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

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