Will a Newcomer Become Chile’s Next President?

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Former journalist Alejandro Guillier has risen rapidly in opinion polls ahead of Chile’s November presidential election. // File Photo: Guillier Campaign.

Chile’s center-left Radical Party named Senator Alejandro Guillier its presidential candidate on Jan. 7. An independent anti-establishment senator, Guillier has become a favorite ahead of the November presidential election. What accounts for Guillier’s rapid rise, and which issues will decide the election? How much of a threat does Guillier pose to Sebastián Piñera as he seeks to return to the presidency? How likely is it that the Concertación’s left-leaning legacy will be maintained under Chile’s next president?

Guillermo Holzmann, professor at the University of Valparaíso in Chile and CEO of Analytyka Consulting: “The party system in Chile is facing, much like in other parts of the world, a stage of fragmentation, and at the same time, a loss of ideology associated with alternative models of society. Chile, like other countries, is searching for political leadership that is capable of lowering levels of inequality, improving quality of life and achieving sustainable development. The political parties lack necessary credibility, which is reflected in the abstention rate—64 percent in the last municipal election. The paradox is that democracy has passed from a government of the majority to a government of the minority. In this context, Guillier appears as an alternative coming from the independent world; even though his thinking is Social Democrat in many ways, it is removed from the establishment parties and their ideas about the distribution of power. Guillier represents an alternative in the consolidation process, and his credibility is his principal source of support against issues of progress in education, health, security and—most importantly—in breaking the concentration of power among the few. He is an emerging option, but…”

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