As expected (see previous post), Michele Bachelet was elected president of Chile today. With nearly all the votes counted, Bachelet won 53.5% of the vote.
It has now been 48 years since Chileans elected a president who was neither a Socialist nor a Christian Democrat–two parties that opposed each other in the 1970s and earlier, but form the core of the ConcertaciÃ³n that has governed Chile since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1989 dictatorship.
An irony of the Chilean political scene is that the right forms a broader segment of the elecorate today than it did before the 1973 coup, in part because of the social changes wrought by the dictatorship. Yet the right has been unable to win a presidential election or a majority of elected legislators, in part because of the two-seat district system for congress and the two-round system for president–institutional changes wrought by the dictatorship that Pinochet intended to prevent the left from winning, but that have instead generated a stable center-left alliance. With proportional representation (which was the pre-1973 system and may be on its way back soon), coalitions of the moderate right and the Christian Democrats would become feasible.
At the bottom of my previous post, Steven Taylor grafted a post of his own, in which he quotes from a Washington Post profile. Among other things, this profile notes that Bachelet is the first woman in a Latin American country to be elected president who was not the widow of a former president or opposition leader. (There have been a few women who were not widows of male political figures to serve as unelected interim presidents.)