Former Green Party candidate backs Bachelet in run-off election

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Published On : Fri, Dec 6th, 2013

Alfredo Sfeir, who ran on the Green Party ticket in the first round of presidential voting, declares his support for the election favorite, fueling speculation of a ministerial position.

Alfredo Sfeir has publicly backed Michelle Bachelet's presidential bid. Photo via Comando Michelle / Twitter

Alfredo Sfeir has publicly backed Michelle Bachelet’s presidential bid. Photo via Comando Michelle / Twitter

Former presidential candidate Alfredo Sfeir has declared his “enthusiastic” support for left-leaning Nueva Mayoría candidate Michelle Bachelet, leading to recriminations from the Green Party (PEV) and speculation about a potential deal which could see him serve as the next Environment Minister.

Sfeir met with Bachelet Thursday and publicly declared his support after agreeing with “more than 40” of her policies, highlighting Bachelet’s opposition to the controversial HidroAysén energy mega-project.

“I have decided to vote in the second round and give my support to you, Michelle Bachelet,” Sfeir said at Bachelet’s headquarters after meeting with the candidate.

The declaration sparked immediate controversy, with the PEV condemning its former candidate’s actions.

“The Green Party administration regrets the decision of its former presidential candidate Alfredo Sfeir,” the PEV said Thursday on Twitter.

It also released a public statement on its website condemning both Bachelet’s Nueva Mayoría and her opposition, Evelyn Matthei of the Alianza coalition.

“The two competing candidacies represent the same predatory model for our natural resources, supporting and based on competition and social inequality, which we — as conservationists — consistently criticized in our recent election campaign,” the statement read.

The party board of directors will meet Saturday to vote on the expulsion of Sfeir from the Green Party. PEV Vice President Félix González has already declared he will vote to expel its leader, as well as campaign manager, Pablo Peñaloza, and Sfeir’s spokesperson, Israel Campusano.

González said Sfeir’s decision was “unacceptable.”

“Sfeir publicly promised to ‘do whatever the party decides in the second round’ and it was a lie,” González told press. “He would told us one thing and then negotiated with the Concertación [Nueva Mayoría] behind our back, which we found out through the press.”

Sfeir also took something of a hit in online popularity. Though the former candidate received just 2.35 percent of the vote in last month’s elections, a subsequent Facebook page, called “Alfredo Sfeir for Environment Minister” gained 180,000 “likes” in just three days, after its creation on Nov.18. Following Sfeir’s declaration Thursday, the number of likes has dropped from 187,723 to a current 184,339, meaning more than 3,000 people have “unliked” the page.

If Bachelet, Chile’s most probable 2014 president, wins the elections, she will be free to choose her ministers. Sfeir’s declaration has already led media to question Sfeir’s thoughts if he was offered the position.

“I would have to think about it when it occurred, right now I am here now to serve the public good,” he told Radio Bío Bío Thursday.

One of Sfeir’s key policies was an emphatic rejection of HidroAysén, a mega-dam project which Bachelet also denounced Thursday.

“The HidroAysén project is not viable and cannot count on our support,” Bachelet told press at her headquarters Thursday.

By Benjamin Druttman (benjamin@santiagotimes.cl)
Copyright 2013 – The Santiago Times

About the Author

Benjamin Druttman
Benjamin Druttman
Benjamin is in his 3rd year studying Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Bristol, U.K. After graduating he hopes to work in international journalism in Spain or in South America.