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Yesterday the presidential elections in Chile were held. Before you lambast yourself for not knowing who the future president of Chile is (you do know how to lambast, don’t you?), consider this: technically neither do we.

If a presidential candidate garners less than 50% of the total vote, then there is a second round between him (or her) and the next-closest candidate. So guess what happened? Piñera won approximately 44% of the vote, and the next closest candidate, Frei (who was the president in 1993, with 58% of the vote, in the last election without a second go-round) won less than 30%. Of course that’s not the full story, and it never is the full story. People who like Frei are pissed at Ominami (who has the very unfortunate nickname of ME-O, which when you say it out loud, sounds like “I take a leak.”), because they believe he split the vote, with his 20%, which they assume might have gone to Frei. Arrate was never a threat, and his measly 6% of the voters are likely to vote for Frei in the 2nd go-round, as he pledged his support for Frei. Ominami’s voters are considered more of a crapshoot, and several friends of mine have sworn to annul their votes.

The numbers, for those of you who prefer graphical representation, look like this:

Captura de pantalla 2009-12-15 a las 0.21.28


Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the votes were somewhat tied to socio-economic status, by which I mean “economic status,” as that whole “socio” thing is probably a bit of an invention even in the states, and in Chile it might as well be a toilet that wakes you up out of bed, makes you “mear” and then puts you back to bed without waking you up (wouldn’t that be amazing!)

Ahem. The data is interesting, and what I figured out by careful looking back and forth and a lot of clickadoo is that the places where Piñera had the most support (in Santiago), were the wealthy comunas (districts) of Vitacura (75%), Lo Barnechea (71%) and Las Condes (69%). The two comunas in which Frei actually beat Piñera were among the city’s poorest, Lo Espejo and La Pintana.

And with power being what it is, and votes being what they are, and the fact that no more people will show up to vote next time than showed up this time, as voting is compulsory and everyone either showed up or was more than 200 km away on Sunday (and will likely be again on Jan. 17th), I think we can solidly expect Piñera to pull off a win in Chile. He’s run twice before, garnering 6% and approximately 25% of the vote, in successive elections. I think we can see where this is going. And I don’t just mean that those crazy flag-wavers are going to be out there and nearly clock me in the head as I ride by, though that is also the case.

So. Piñera.

And now I leave my political discussion with one of my favorite chatspeak or SMSspeak expression in Spanish.


(cinco mentario… sin comentario. It means “no comment”).

And then, because what blog entry about voting would be complete without pictures (taken more from the women’s polling place than the men’s because the military gents at the men’s voting place weren’t clear on the concept of democracy, and free elections (and the right to photograph same), I present the following:

My very dangerous picture of people waiting on line before voting. As you can see, this presents a threat to elementary school security, and for this I am unerringly sorry.

democracy in action

After I took some pictures and was asked to stop, which I did, a local citizen tried to explain to me that during the dictatorship I could NEVER have taken pictures during elections. Seeing as how dictatorships are generally based on the idea that citizens are not given a chance to vote, I couldn’t agree more.

Things were more loosey goosey on the ladies’ side, and after I took this picture of Felipe Harboe Bascuñán, who is the representative for district 22 in the comuna of Santiago I went to check that out. But first I totally had to ask who he was because if you think my level of political involvement in Chile rises to the level of knowing who he is by sight, then it is clear that you have me confused with someone who has her finger on the pulse of anything other than her own wrist.

But he sure is fancy looking.

Sale Harboe de haber votado en Santiago.

Now inside the gates of the women’s polling place, I could take photos more readily. These women were roped into being “vocales de mesa” a 13-hour long “job” which is a civic responsibility. If one of them hadn’t shown up, then the voter who showed up first would have been corralled into serving. It’s a quirky system and no one seems to like being “vocal de mesa” but I haven’t heard of any upcoming changes to the system. The woman on the right is a friend of mine who I’d come to see at her table. Her job was to ink people’s thumbs after they vote and hand them a tissue to dry the ink with. She did a bangup job.

vocales de mesa pasandolo chancho

And here’s a wee future voter, one of the cutest kids I saw all day, and this is a country with an unsmall number of really cute kids. I loved seeing how many people brought their kids along to watch them vote.

future voter of chile

The dogs though? that was just strange. Breed of the day seemed to be some kind of a poodley thing. And they think I’m a threat to security? I have never bitten anyone’s ankle.


And that’s all I’ve got. Tune in in January for “OMG, it’s so hot, and now we know for sure who the president is and none of my friends are happy but at least I’m not getting hit in the head by those flags anymore.”

Oh, and don’t these candidate posters lead themselves to defacing a little too easily? Someone passing by Parque Bustamonte evidently thought so.


Edited to add this post where I talk about the celebrations, post-win.