Monday, January 18

Chile, and the rest of Latin America, swings right?

Last month I wrote about the Chilean presidential elections, and didn't really follow up. Sorry about that. 

Turns out that on the first round, no candidate won the majority. So this past Sunday, the two candidates that won the most votes--Sebastian Piñera and Eduardo Frei--faced each other again at the polls for a deciding vote. 

Piñera won the election, which has confirmed commentators' observations that Latin America is swinging right, including The New York Times and Real Clear Politics. Even as early as last summer, news analysts (The Guardian and Newsweek) were pointing to the coming Chilean elections as an important political barometer for the Western hemisphere.   

Why is this a big deal? Less than five years ago (I think), the barometer was wavering more to the extreme left, with leaders like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales gaining popularity. A big turn to the right might mean that the region's voter are tiring of populist leftist leaders. 

But some Latin American experts have another perspective. poked fun at this pretty lackluster comment by the Inter-American Dialogue president, for example.

In any case, Peruvians are watching to see what Piñera will do. They hope that, as a newcomer, Piñera will be more amenable to improvements in relations with his northern neighbor.

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