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CHILE: Latest developments in presidential race

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There have been some important developments in the race for the presidency over the past month. The first round of the presidential election takes place on 21 November, with a run-off vote scheduled for 19 December. Before then, in April, there will be an election for the constituent assembly, regional governors, and municipal authorities, the outcome of which will resonate in the subsequent presidential campaign. Below is a summary of recent events and their implications.

Bachelet weighs in: former president Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010, 2014-2018) has endorsed her former spokeswoman (with ministerial rank), Paula Narvaez, to be the Socialist Party (PS) candidate. Narvaez’s pre-candidacy is a game-changer for the PS, which was struggling to come up with a decent candidate, and could galvanize the center-left space in a way that Heraldo Munoz of the Party for Democracy (PPD) has so far failed to do. Narvaez has been abroad for the last couple of years, which gives her some distance from recent political turbulence, though it also means her name recognition is relatively low.

Sanchez drops out: Beatriz Sanchez of the leftist Broad Front (FA), who came a strong third with 20% of the vote in the 2017 presidential race, has opted to run for the constituent assembly, not the presidency. Without an obvious alternative, the FA will gravitate towards the Communist Party (PC)’s Daniel Jadue. However, a Narvaez candidacy is also seen within parts of the FA as a palatable option if the bloc must eventually decide whether to support a more centrist candidate (e.g. in any run-off vote) against the Right.

Jadue faces pressure: an investigation has been opened into the PC’s Jadue over possible corruption in a streetlighting contract in Recoleta, where he is mayor. A Cadem poll carried out last week has Jadue still in a joint lead with the right-wing Independent Democratic Union (UDI)’s Joaquin Lavin, but it will be important to monitor what effect the continuing investigation has on Jadue’s popularity.

Lavin goes all in: Lavin, who faces competition from Evelyn Matthei for the UDI nomination, has announced that he will not pursue re-election as mayor of Las Condes in April but will instead focus 100% on the presidential race. This could be a shrewd move since a local campaign would have risked Lavin getting bogged down in local issues and possibly winning a lower majority than he did in 2016. It also puts Matthei under pressure because she is still seeking re-election as mayor of Providencia while also fighting for the presidential nomination.

Briones may join the fray: while the governing Chile Vamos (CV) coalition already has strong pre-candidates in the form of Lavin and Matthei from the UDI and Mario Desbordes and Sebastian Sichel representing the RN, the Evopoli party – the CV’s youngest member – should settle on its pre-candidate by the end of this week. Finance Minister Ignacio Briones appears to the party’s lead contender.

Jiles looks for territorial advantage: the populist lower house deputy, Pamela Jiles, has an approval rating of 58% according to the latest Cadem poll. Her husband, Pablo Maltes, is running for governor of the Metropolitan Region (RM) of Santiago, while the tiny PH will be competing under its own steam in the April constituent elections; both will be big tests of whether Jiles is just a passing phenomenon.

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CHILE: Latest developments in presidential race

There have been some important developments in the race for the presidency over the past month. The first round of the presidential election takes