Michelle Bachelet expected to win Presidential election today


Voters will return to the polls again today in the second round of the presidential election, having reduced the number of candidates down from nine to two hopefuls. The first round, which took place on 17th November, was inconclusive.

Today’s second round will see Michelle Bachelet of the centre-left Socialist Party (PS) stand under her coalition banner ‘New Majority’. She narrowly failed to get a majority in the first round, taking 46.7% of the vote as the favourite. Bachelet is predicted to get around 63% to 66% of the vote according to the last opinion polls taken in late November.

Bachelet’s rival Evelyn Matthei of the right-wing Independent Democratic Union (UDI) is standing under her coalition banner ‘Alliance for Chile’. She represents the current government but has struggled to manage an argumentative coalition and a clear desire for change amongst the electorate. In the first round Matthei received 25.03% of the vote and the last opinion poll suggests that she will get around 33% to 36% of the vote today.

Both candidates went in a head to head debate on Tuesday in which Matthei was declared the winner by most commentators. It was felt that she had a better grip of the facts, although Bachelet was clearly playing a safe game rather than taking any risks.

In the first round Bachelet’s New Majority won 67 of the 120 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. However, the coalition is a very loose fit and her Socialist Party (PS) only managed to win 15 of those seats. Assuming she wins today Michelle Bachelet will have to spend much energy keeping her coalition together and perhaps winning some support from the opposition. In that first round of the general election Evelyn Matthei’s Independent Democratic Union (UDI) emerged as the largest party in the lower house with 29 seats.

Turnout in the first round was low at 49.35% of registered voters. There are 13,573,143 eligible voters in this round. Michelle Bachelet will be concerned that her voters will consider the election a done deal and not turn out whilst Evelyn Matthei will be seeking to get out her traditional voters, many of whom didn’t vote in the first round.

Polling stations are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time and the results should be known by early on Monday morning.

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