Chile does not usually hold presidential primary elections. For that reason, we typically arrive at election day in November with seven or eight (or more) candidates on the ballot and thus no one ends up getting at least 50.1% of the vote. Therefore, the top two vote-getters do a run-off election in December, called la segunda vuelta.
However, this year (2017) the “Right” is having a primary election for its three top contenders on Sunday, July 2nd. Besides former president Sebastián Piñera (independent, populist, center-right), the other two candidates from the Right are Senator Miguel José Ossandón (an independent, ignorant-but-popular, centrist, pragmatic populist) and Representative (diputado) left-leaning Felipe Kast (political evolution party). The most libertarian and pro-life candidate is Representative (diputado) José Antonio Kast (independent, ex-UDI). He did not get enough signatures to be on the primary ballot but will be on the November ballot.
The hard Left is participating in the primary, too, with key contenders being radio reporter Beatriz Sánchez (supported by the Humanist Party and also many left-leaning libertarians, including the Liberal Party) and sociologist Alberto Mayol (from the “wide front” coalition). The Right and hard-left primaries will narrow the candidate field a bit in November.
Since the “moderate” Left could not come to any agreement within their coalition to have a primary, their two prominent candidates: senators Carolina Goic (Christian Democrat) and Alejandro Guillier (Radical Party, also backed by the Socialist party) will both run in November. The centrist Christian Democrats are even talking about supporting the Right instead this year in the second round (if Goic does not make the cut) should favored centrist Sebastián Piñera win the Right’s primary. Morevoer, if things look bad for Goic in November, these voters might turn to Piñera in the first round instead, which might push him over the top and preclude the necessity of having a December run-off.
If you can read Spanish, see the write-up at this link where you can learn more about each of the candidates. Remember that both citizens and permanent residents (of at least five years) can vote in Chile. Permanent residents and citizens living abroad can also vote; they should contact their local Chilean consulates to find out how to do so.
At first glance, libertarians that vote should do so for José Antonio Kast. Like Ron Paul, he will likely not win. In the end, we will probably be stuck with Piñera again. He will face Guillier, Goic, José Antonio Kast and whatever other socialist, green-leaning or communist candidates that appear. If José Antonio Kast were not running, Piñera would clearly be better, in spite of his populist support for the “morning after pill” and silly labor laws used to “buy” votes.
Since the primary ballots allow voters to select either leftist or rightist candidates, some have suggested that the hard left will go to the polls in July to vote for Felipe Kast or Ossandón in order to derail Piñera and keep the Christian Democrats in the leftist fold. The center-left candidates would have a shot at beating Felipe Kast or Ossandón but would be unlikely to beat Piñera. So, the strategy makes sense.
At the moment, the Right is far ahead. Chile has endured four long years of detrimental leftist-rule and the populace is tired of it. Whichever rightist candidate wins will undoubtedly receive the support of the backers of the other rightist pretenders–just as with the Republican Party in the USA. Once again, if Goic supporters fall in with Piñera over Guillier, then it is even possible that the Right could win in the first round (la primera vuelta) of elections in November.
Achieving that would mark an historic victory for the Right and put it firmly in the political driver’s seat. For that reason, some libertarians I know will be voting for Piñera instead of Ossandón in July. They like José Antonio Kaast better, of course, but are choosing what they consider to be the best option in the primaries. Ossandón is considered to be like Ronald Reagan by some Chilean libertarians. They also see José Antonio Kast as just warming up now so that he can take the bid in 2021. Could be the case. I am no fan of Piñera. I am a libertarian. But I am a fan of Chile and I must confess that Chile will probably fare far better under Piñera than Guillier or Goic.
The bigger races to watch are, perhaps, the congressional seats in hotly contested parts of Chile, especially Viña del Mar, Concepción, Punta Arenas and some areas of south central Chile (Temuco to Puerto Montt). Iquique and Arica might also turn right if the politics are well-played and the rightest candidate is only opposed by a hard-left one.
As always, the northeastern part of Santiago will go to the Right. However, adjacent parts like La Reina, Santiago, Puente Also, Ñuñoa and Huecheraba will be, as always, in a tug-of-war between Left and Right. The same is true for Estación Central, Maipú and La Florida. The Right needs to do well in these districts if it wants to be able to shift Chile back on the right track. The Right typically forms a tight coalition in the houses of Congress, meaning that individual ideas are less important. The balance of power needs to be shifted back and recover the ground lost in 2013.
If the Right wins big like it did in last year’s mayoral races, Chile could become even more solidly libertarian and an even better place to do business. Keep a close eye on things. 2018 could be a very good year!
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