World, Americas

Chile: President faces lowest approval rate amid protests

Pinera went from being best leader in Latin America to having just 10% approval rating

Andrea Aguilar Cordoba   | 14.01.2020
Chile: President faces lowest approval rate amid protests


The Chilean government has been unable to recover stability and answer social demands after protests and riots started in October.

This has caused the drop of President Sebastian Pinera popularity and the international country's image pictured as an "oasis in a troubled region."

According to the latest survey conducted by Chilean pollster Cadem, the president's approval rating reached a historic low of 10%, and his disapproval reached 82%, after three months of protests that have shaken Latin America's richest country.

The opposition claims the numbers respond to his failure to fulfill the three main campaign promises that marked his return to power in 2018: economic growth, jobs and security.

"In terms of economic growth we see that the statistics were bad even before the outbreak of October 18. There were areas where unemployment had increased and security was already doing very poorly in the fight against crime, and this has been deepened by what has happened in recent months," said President of the Socialist Party of Chile Alvaro Elizalde.

Aspects such as authority and leadership are among the most questioned of Pinera in nationwide polls. Some experts say these factors are compounded by the general perception that measures his government adopted during the crisis were not enough.

"The structural reforms have not have a loud echoing in his daily contact with people. It has to be tangible. When people feel that their lives cost less and that making an effort is more rewarded, social welfare will be generated in one way or another," political analyst Rodrigo Arellano told Anadolu Agency.

This weekend polling by Ipsos evaluated the approval of 14 leaders in Latin America. Pinera was the best president with 68% approval in Latin America but after protests he dropped to 32% -- seventh in Latin America

Beyond national and international polls, Chile’s economy felt the effects of the social crisis during the protest. The unemployment rate reached 6.9% in the last quarter and a Consumer Perception Index dropped to its lowest level since 2001. Those are clear evidence of a deterioration caused by the social crisis in the labor market.

The ruling party claims the collapse of the president's popularity is a "snapshot of the moment," although it recognize the impact it could cause within the government coalition in view of a referendum that will define whether there is a change to the Constitution; the main demands of protesters.

"We believe that we must act with calm after possibility of reaching an agreement for a new Constitution with the plebiscite where the Chileans are going to make the their voices heard," pro-government Senator Francisco Chahuan told Anadolu Agency.

According to the Cadem survey, 74% of Chileans agree with drafting a new Constitution to replace the Magna Carta left by the Pinochet dictatorship, a process that will begin with a referendum April 26 and promises to become a headache for the current government.

*Jose Baez G. from Colombia contributed to the story

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