As expected, Michelle Bachelet was elected President of Chile in the December 15, 2013 runoff election. The center-left candidate was President during 2006-2010, a period of relative stagnation in Chile’s economy. The electoral landslide (62% in her favor) was not unexpected since the candidate from the Right, Evelyn Matthei, became sickeningly populist at the end of the campaign, making alienated rightist voters stay home in large numbers. Voter turnout was the lowest in history; fewer than 50% of registered voters voted.

While some fear that her radical feminist role in the United Nations has made her worse than she was before, many believe that she will continue to be a moderate leader. Her election further shows the need for more libertarian activism in Chile. Since the general election last month, there have been some worries about a leftward swing as the Left gained a lot of seats, almost enough to make some structural changes to Chilean policy. But I think the jury is still out as to how Chile will fare. Certainly, if radical changes are made and fail, there will be a greater opportunity for the Right to come back in four years. The most likely scenario is one of favor-brokering and rent seeking with crony capitalism.

2013-12-15 Chile Vote 2

Libertarian immigrants might be interested in knowing in which places (comunas) Matthei actually won. They might want to live where people are more like-minded. She only won in a few places in six of Chile’s 15 regions: little towns Camiña and Colchane in the 1st Region (regional capital Iquique, where she got 45% of the vote); Concón, Algarrobo, Santo Domingo and Zapallar in the 5th Region, with Viña del Mar being very close. In the Metropolitan Región of Santiago Matthei won (usually by a lot), not surprisingly, Vitacura, Lo Barnechea, Las Condes, La Reina, Providencia and Colina (Calera de Tango was close); in the 8th Region she won Pinto and Pucón in the 9th Region (where Lonquimay was close). In the 12th Region she won the tiny towns of Cabo de Hornos, Timaukel and Antártica. Other than the frigid areas in the cities listed above, these places are congruent with were most well-to-do immigrants would want to be, and any immigrant that favors liberty.

I was surprised to see the farming areas go so strongly for the center left this time around. Bachelet’s victory in mining areas of the north and south of Concepción was no surprise. Matthei did best in Northeastern Santiago, the Northwestern 5th Region, and not so bad in some places in the 9th Region. The only big regional cities where Matthei had a decent showing were Viña del Mar, Iquique and Temuco. The rest were a disaster. Honorable mention goes to the 22 comunas that mustered at least 43% for Matthei. These are:

  • Iquique (1st, 45%)
  • Papudo (5th, 44%)
  • Quilpué (5th, 43%)
  • Villa Alemana (5th, 47%)
  • Ñuñoa (RM, 46%)
  • Pirque (RM, 48%)
  • El Carmen (8th, 45%)
  • Tirúa (8th, 45%)
  • Curarrehue (9th, 45%)
  • Gorbea (9th, 48%)
  • Melipeuco (9th, 45%)
  • Temuco (9th, 47%)
  • Teodoro Schmidt (9th, 47%)
  • Toltén (9th, 48%)
  • Villarrica (9th, 48%)
  • Lago Ranco (14th, 45%)
  • Cochamó (10th, 47%)
  • Puerto Varas (10th, 47%)
  • Cochrane (11th, 44%)
  • Lago Verde (11th, 48%)
  • Río Ibánez (11th, 46%)
  • Caleta Tortel (11th, 46%)
  • Río Verde (12th, 47%)

Of these, I was quite surprised to see that smaller, but overall nicer communities like Puerto Varas, Lago Ranco, Papudo, Curarrehue and Villarrica (both near Pucón), as well as cities like Gorbea and Temuco, and perhaps Quilpué and Villa Alemana, did not outright go for Matthei. It is also evident from this election that the Right has lost its once strong grip on places areas surrounding Rancagua, Talca, Valdivia, Osorno and Puerto Montt. Very troubling results overall. Now more than ever we have something to work for!

The government reported that only 41.9% of registered voters actually went to the polls. This result is partly because the Left believed that they would win big (and did) and because the Right did not at all like their candidate. Thus the result was somewhat of a protest vote. A foreigner should certainly not come away with the idea that Chile is 62% leftist from the 2013 election. There are 6 popularly elected communists in the Congress. But there are far more than that who are libertarians. We must not lose perspective. The rightist parties chose a bad candidate and then chose not to vote for her.

Help Chile be a freer place by investing in the country and even moving to Chile. Chile has a new sustainable community starting called Freedom Orchard. Check it out. Invest in it, and diversify out of the decaying assets in “First World” nations.

Also, be sure to tune in to Dr. Cobin’s radio program: “Red Hot Chile” at noon (ET) on Fridays on the Overseas Radio Network (ORN). You can also join the thousands of other people who download the shows each month via the archive link on our Red Hot Chile page (recorded show updated every Monday morning).

Be sure, too, to visit for discussion and forums about the country and what’s going on with Freedom Orchard.

Dr. Cobin’s book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service – Chile Consulting – where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $49.

Dr. Cobin’s sequel book, Expatriates to Chile: Topics for Living, adds even further depth on important topics to expatriates who either live in Chile already or who have Chile on the short list of countries where they hope to immigrate. The book deals with crucial issues pertaining to urban and rural real estate transactions, natural disasters, issues pertaining to emigration and its urgency, money and the quality of life, medical care and insurance, business opportunities, social manifestations (including welfare state and divorce policy concerns), Chile in the freedom indices, social maladies (lying, cheating, stealing and murder), as well as discussion of a few places worth visiting and some further comments about Santiago.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.