To live by approval ratings is to die by them. No Latin American head of state has seen this as clearly as Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, who leaves office March 11 after her second (non-consecutive) term in office.
When Bachelet left office the first time, in 2010, her approval ratings soared above 80 percent. That popularity helped carry her back into office in 2014, winning by the largest margin in Chile’s post-dictatorship history. But in the time since, corruption scandals, an economy dragged down by low copper prices and unmet expectations quickly weighed on her poll numbers, which at times dropped below 20 percent. Her cabinet was often dysfunctional, and many of her most ambitious ideas – such as a new constitution and badly needed pension reform – never got off the ground. Voters’ overall impression was of messy politics hobbled by squabbling and poor governance. She has since bounced back a small amount, and limps out of office with the support of approximately four in 10 Chileans.