With the presidential election fast approaching, political parties are pushing their candidates to lead their coalitions. Conflicts and compromise will soon be the order of the day as they head towards a consolidation deadline in early January. Meanwhile, several familiar faces have also re-emerged to join the campaigns.
The Oct. 25 plebiscite for a new Constitution suggests that people want change. However, the current crop of candidates consist of old names that have failed to live up to their expectations.
Numerous political figures have resurfaced for next year’s presidential election, and, with a rapidly approaching deadline, various political parties are jockeying to push their candidates to the head of their coalitions. This has led to conflicts within the coalitions.
The only coalition not presenting candidates is the leftist Frente Amplio, whose various internal conflicts have led to numerous parties leaving as well as political figures attempting to break free from their grasps.
So far, there are 18 confirmed candidates over three coalitions with several independent candidates running both within a coalition or separately by themselves. The three major coalitions have until Jan. 11 to consolidate their parties and must have their presidential candidates ready by July 4.
Crisis in Chile Vamos
The ruling Chile Vamos coalition has been in crisis since the plebiscite. Consisting of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), National Renewal (RN), Political Evolution (Evópoli), and the Democratic Independent Regionalist Party, this coalition, officially, is considered a center-right coalition, with Evópoli in the center and UDI the furthest right, but the coalition has been fracturing of late.
The mayor of Santiago’s Providencia district, Evelyn Matthei, was named UDI’s official candidate. This would be her second presidential campaign after she unsuccessfully ran against Michelle Bachelet in 2013. Matthei said that her campaign would compete directly with fellow UDI member Joaquin Lavín, who has dodged questions about a possible candidacy.
A staunch conservative, Matthei has been supportive of the dictatorship. Her father was head of the air force from 1978 to 1991 and in charge of Chilean operations in the Falklands War. Matthei is a confrontational personality and has sparked many public arguments.
Two independents have also plans to run within the Chile Vamos coalition. The first is the mayor of Santiago’s La Florida neighborhood, Rodolfo Carter, originally a member of UDI. Carter left the coalition in 2015 due to his more progressive ideas. His support for same-sex marriage and medical marijuana are irreconcilable with party doctrine, which is based on Catholicism.
The other independent is Sebastián Sichel, the former head of state lender Banco Estado. A former member of the centrist Christian Democrat Party, Sichel left in 2015 and supported Piñera’s second run for president in 2017.
Over a year old, this center-left coalition consists of the Party for Democracy (PPD), the Radical Party (PR), and the Socialist Party (PS). This grouping bases its ideology on social democratic ideals and social progressiveness.
The PPD leads the presidential ticket with three candidates. The first is Francisco Vidal, a lifelong politician who began his career as an activist against Salvador Allende’s government in the 1970s. The military coup and dictatorship, however, inspired him to join the PPD, where he would meet future president Ricardo Lagos.
Vidal held numerous positions during the Lagos and Bachelet presidencies, ranging from the Ministry of Interior to heading the national television network, TVN.
The other candidate is Heraldo Muñoz, one of the original founders of the party and a specialist in foreign relations. He was foreign minister during Bachelet’s second administration and held ambassadorships and high-level positions at international institutions before.
And Jorge Tarud, a former congressman and diplomat, will also run. He has been absent from politics since losing his congressional seat in 2017.
The Radical Party presented its party president, Carlos Maldonado, as candidate. A lawyer by profession, Maldonado served as Bachelet’s Minister of Justice between 2007 and 2011.
Unidad por el Cambio
The Communist Party (PC) and the Social Green Regionalist Federation (FREVS), members of a leftist coalition, have each presented their own candidates.
Recoleta mayor Daniel Jadue has been presented as the favorite by the PC due to the popularity his municipal social programs won him. Among them is the creation of a publicly-financed pharmacy that allows the municipality to buy medication and sell it to residents at a discount.
Jadue has come under fire for his critical stance against Israel. Descendant from Palestinian immigrants, Jadue has made his position clear on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Because of this, Jadue was named one of the 10 worst anti-Semitics of the year by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The FREVS has presented congressman Jaime Mulet as its candidate. Previously a member of the Christian Democratic Party, Mulet left it to join the Independent Regionalist Party in 2008 and remained there until 2017, when he created the FREVS. He has also been a member of Congress since 1998.
After a year filled with in-fighting, there are numerous parties that split from their coalitions and focus on running their own candidates.
The Christian Democratic Party will be by itself in the upcoming election and will have its own primaries, with congressperson Ximena Rincón and former Minister of Public Works Alberto Undurraga competing for the position.
After leaving Frente Amplio, the Humanist Party has yet to align itself with a coalition, but has formally presented congresswoman Pamela Jiles as its candidate. A journalist and former TV personality, Jiles is considered one of the most popular candidates on the roster.
Meanwhile, the extreme right-wing Republican Party presented José Antonio Kast as its candidate back in 2018.