Regional Balance: today Chile, tomorrow Brazil
President Elect of Chile, Sebastián Piñera
Sebastian Piñera won the presidential elections in Chile, obtaining 51.6% of the vote against 48.4 of the official candidate Eduardo Frei. To gain a parliamentary majority, the new government must achieve political agreements with any of the parties of the center-left Concertación. Perhaps Eduardo Frei’s Christian Democrats are the natural allies that will give governance to Piñera. The new president needs to have a political opposition acting constructively.
In his first public statement after being defeated, Eduardo Frei hoped that “dialogue will prevail, the search for agreements and the need to maintain the social gains that we worked so hard to recover and have become a symbol of our relationship with the world.”
Piñera’s conservative victory is the first one since 1958 when Jorge Alessandri won the elections. Of course the democratic Piñera has nothing to do with the dictator Pinochet. They are two very different things. To start with, Piñera won peaceful and democratically with the 51% of the vote.
This victory means the end of 20 years in power of the Democratic Coalition, the coalition of four center-left parties.
Paradoxically the defeat of the Coalition occurred when President Michelle Bachelet, has a 80% popularity, which could not endorse it to their candidate, former President Frei, who ruled the country between 1994 and 2000.
Although Piñera must secure parliamentary majorities, Chile faces an encouraging economic outlook. The country is recovering from the international financial recession. And the main generator of resources, copper, is at record high prices, and Chile has a reserve fund of 12 billion dollars.
Being a multimillionaire, and in order to silence criticism, Piñera delegated in April 2009 the administration of much of his fortune to a trust where he does not intervene in any of the business decisions. He will also sell his shares of the Chilean airline LAN before assuming his duties on March 11.
With the Conservative victory in Chile, South America is now divided into two major blocs.
A group of countries with center-right governments located to the west of the subcontinent, to the Pacific Ocean: Colombia, Peru and Chile.
The other group of nations is more diverse politically speaking, in spite of being all of them leftists. These group is located to the east over the Atlantic Ocean with four left-populist governments, from the quasi-dictatorship of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, to the populist Peronist style governments in Argentina and Uruguay, and Lula in the Brazil, which despite his skills and positive outcomes for Brazil can hardly be transferred to a candidate of his own political party: the PT.
We will have to see what happens in next October’s presidential elections in Brazil. It appears that the left can not win as Lula has no good replacement and if that occurs, South America definitely has a chance to become an important part of the Western Hemisphere, inserting the region in a big way in the XXI Century, starting a path of prosperity and security for its people.
Victor Bjorgan - Publisher of Bloggers of The Americas
Therefore, what the title says, there is fresh air again touring the continent. Today Chile, in October hopefully also Brazil.