Bachelet and Matthei take to airwaves in election final stretch

By Benjamin Druttman
Published On : Tue, Dec 3rd, 2013

Bachelet flaunts Communist youngblood, plugs new constitution, Matthei takes up cause of women and children, embraces weeping abuse victim in second round election TV ads.

Childhood playmates Michelle Bachelet, left, and Evelyn Matthei will go head to head in Chile’s presidential election Dec. 15. Photos via UDI and U.N. Women / Flickr

Childhood playmates Michelle Bachelet, left, and Evelyn Matthei will go head to head in Chile’s presidential election Dec. 15. Photos via UDI and U.N. Women / Flickr

In the twelve days leading up to the run-off presidential election, Chileans are set to be bombarded by advertisements as left-leaning Nueva Mayoría candidate Michelle Bachelet and Evelyn Matthei of the right-leaning Alianza coalition launch their promotional television campaigns.

The two presidential hopefuls will air a different video every day until Dec. 12, three days before the second and final round of elections, having released their first ads Sunday and Monday.

In the initial five minute installments, Bachelet promotes her plan to reform Chile’s education system and targets abstainers following the first round’s low voter turnout, while Matthei focuses on women and children’s rights. Both candidates placed particular emphasis on engaging the young — Matthei’s youthful new-look campaign team features prominently while Bachelet solicits the support of former student leaders and new Communist Party (PC) deputies in her video.

Sebastián Goldsack, Dean of the Faculty of Communications at the Universidad del Pacífico, believes appearances from student movement figures that have joined the Nueva Mayoría, namely Camila Vallejo and Karol Cariola, are an attempt to increase Bachelet’s popularity among young voters, while Matthei is employing similar tactics.

“In Evelyn Matthei’s case, I believe she is making an effort to gain credibility by bringing something to the same table as her youngest collaborators: Felipe Kast, Marcela Sabat or Jaime Bellolio,” he told La Nación. “All are people who got a high vote.”

In her videos, Michelle Bachelet also gave airtime to fighting crime, the creation of an institution to promote entrepreneurship, improving public health care and reaffirmed her support of a new constitution.

In the first installment, Bachelet discusses her public security plans with a middle-aged woman over milk and cookies, telling her she want to add 6000 officers to Chile’s police force and 1,200 employees to Chile’s Investigative Police.

Later, the video addresses demands made by members of Chile’s influential student movement — a segment of which has a fraught relationship with the former president whom it accuses of betraying earlier protests. Deputy-elect Vallejo confirms that Bachelet will create a new constitution and the ad’s narrator mentions the former president’s promise to fight for free education.

“What Bachelet’s basically doing is repeating her strategy from the first round,” Political analyst at the independent Tresquintos polling institute Kenneth Bunker told The Santiago Times. “She’s trying to repeat the idea of an educational reform, of a tax reform, of a constitutional reform because it worked in the first round.”

Bachelet dominated Nov. 17’s election with 46.7 percent of the total vote. The first round, however, was marred by a low voter turnout and a significant portion of her first video is dedicated to calling on abstainers to head to the polls come Dec. 15. The section is notable in that it puts low voter turnout down to the fact that many view Bachelet’s lead as insurmountable, rather than high abstention rates in Chile’s extreme regions or political apathy.

“Most people know Bachelet’s going to win the race no matter what she does,” Bunker said. “I don’t think the videos are going to do much to bring more people out to vote.”

Bachelet’s opposition Matthei begins here first ad in a familiar setting, preparing breakfast at home ahead of a day spent with disenfranchised women. The Alianza candidate laments the sorry state of gender-based violence in Chile, and at one point holds a sobbing victim of abuse in her arms.

Matthei’s agenda has an enhance focus on women’s issues in the second round. On Nov. 27 she added 30 new policies to her platform, several of which purport to empower women, with a plan for a new women’s hospital in northern Santiago and a new social protection card via which underprivileged women may receive government benefits.

Matthei’s second video focuses on disadvantaged children, and Kast features prominently as he backs his candidate to support the cause of abandoned, abused and bullied youth.

In both videos, Matthei is seen jotting down notes as her young campaign team spitball policy proposals around a table. Matthei refers to them as her “kids” and the inspiration behind her plans for the country.

“They are kids who want to change the world — I strongly believe that young people are the ones capable of changing the world,” Matthei says of her team.

Cristián Leoporati, director of advertising at the Universidad Diego Portales, claimed that the videos portrayed a more “real” and more “humane” Matthei. However, he believes her campaign team is too homogenous.

“If you look at Matthei’s campaign [videos], they are very close to home, very empathetic,” he told La Nación. “But it there is a lack of diversity, you can’t see a lot of diversity in her team.”

Further videos will be released at 8:50 p.m. every evening until Dec. 12.

Matthei video #1

Bachelet video #1

Matthei video #2

Bachelet video #2

By Benjamin Druttman (benjamin@santiagotimes.cl) & Henry Clayton Wickham (clayton@santiagotimes.cl)
Copyright 2013 – The Santiago Times

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