Chilean government defends voter participation campaign

Isabel Cocker/The Santiago Times Staff

SANTIAGO – Representatives from President Bachelet’s campaign on Monday defended the operation to increase participation in the November elections, as the opposition described it as “interventionist”.

The campaign has been criticized by the right-wing opposition, who have highlighted the lack of government activism in the Primary round of the elections and suggested that this campaign may be a move by the Left to increase the chances of Alejandro Guillier, the Presidential candidate for “Fuerza de Mayoría”.

The President of Renovación Nacional, Cristián Monckeberg, commented that the movement is “unusual” because “a Government which has acted without any participation by its citizens is now asking Chileans to go and vote”, reported El Siglo. Renovación Nacional is a liberal conservative party which is part of the Chile Vamos coalition with Sebastián Piñera as its candidate.

Statistics seem to suggest that a higher turnout will increase the chances of the Left staying in power, with Piñera having more of an opportunity to win back power if turnout stays at its normal level. However, this “normal” level is lower than the average global turnout, with fewer than 50% of registered voters going to the voting booths in the last Presidential elections. With the global conversation turning ever more politically aware, it does not seem too strange that a government would be trying to increase voter participation.

Paula Narváez, Bachelet’s Secretary of State, responded to the criticisms on Monday saying that “we do not see any type of difficulty in this, we don’t see any type of irregularity in this, nor do we agree with the accusations of interventionism which have been made.”

She added that “we are calling to all who wish to criticise us that they look at this also from the point of view of how we may strengthen all political sectors and we believe that all of the candidates also should add their voices to this call for voting on the 19th of November.”

During an event in Viña del Mar on Monday, President Bachelet also defended the campaign, commenting that “[voting] is the right of every citizen and I think that we all need for everyone to be able to vote, so that they may be able to express what they believe is important, to see what type of country they wish for us to continue building.”