The Chilean conservative alliance “Chile, let’s go” which achieved a sweeping victory in last Sunday’s municipal elections, causing a serious disarray to the ruling coalition New Majority with only a year before the 2017 presidential election, also managed to win the Punta Arenas mayoralty for the first time since the end of the Pinochet era.
Last weekend turned into a black Sunday for president Michelle Bachelet and the coalition that supports her is now apparently in the process of a major split among the two main forces, the Socialist and the Christian Democrat parties.
Bachelet and her political ministers are Socialists but the Christian Democrats are furious with the Sunday outcome since they disagreed with the campaign and now have walked away from the joint strategy political council and question whether ex president Ricardo Lagos, a Socialist, should be the coalition’s hopeful candidate next year.
The ruling New Majority lost several emblematic counties in metropolitan Santiago and was removed in seven of the regional capitals, including Punta Arenas, in Magallanes.
In effect in the extreme south of Chile, since the end of the military dictatorship in 1990, when the last mayor appointed by the Pinochet regime came to an end, the Chilean center left coalition has prevailed in local politics, be it under the Concertacion or New Majority coalition, while the conservatives were left on the sidelines. Only once in these almost three decades did the conservatives have a limited influence by helping an independent become Punta Arenas mayor.
But now it´s different: Claudio Radonich managed a comfortable 47% of votes cast, well ahead of the New Majority candidate Ramón Lobos, 20.3% and 17.4% for Emilio Boccazzi the current mayor.
Voters by supporting Chile Let’s go Radonich have punished the current mayor who only four years ago became the undisputed winner with 56% equivalent to 16.000 votes and last Sunday only obtained 4.800 ballots.
How come such a punishment? Well maybe Radonich gave an idea of what happened, “I was supported because the community are demanding an orderly, honest and transparent administration that looks after each and every peso which belongs to each of us”.
Chile Let’s go most probable presidential candidate next year will be Sebastian Piñera, who back in 2009 when the ruling coalition Concertacion split, he was able to slip in and become president (2010/2014). If last Sunday’s municipal elections are a reflection of Chilean voters’ feelings, we shouldn’t be surprised if he again returns to La Moneda.