NATIONAL POLITICS

Chile Back at the Ballot Box: Governors’ Runoff Underway

With a packed electoral calendar, Chileans are heading to the voting stations this Sunday to elect governors. In three regions, governors were already chosen during the mega elections in May. In all other regions, the two candidates with best results in the first round are now facing each other in the second round.

 For the first time in history, Chileans can vote governors. They will serve four years. In 13 of Chile’s 16 regions, candidates are competing in the second round of regional elections on Sunday. In Valparaíso, Aysén and Magallanes regions, candidates had obtained over 40 percent of the votes in the first round, getting them elected instantly.

Supermarkets and malls are closed, the sale of alcohol is suspended and public transport is free to enable everyone to vote. Results are expected for around 20h, as pundits’ eyes are on the Metropolitan Region.

As the economic and demographic powerhouse, the stakes are high in the region. National media dubbed the elections in the region already “the battle for Santiago,” not only because the governor has much influence on the national stage but also because of the two candidates’ ideological differences.

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Media present the elections in the Metropolitan Region as a choice between a new, progressive Chile and the old, traditional one. The two candidates are Karina Oliva, of the Broad Front, and Claudio Orrego from the Christian Democrats. The Broad Front, an alliance of relatively new political parties, surprised during the presidential elections in 2017 and the recent mega elections, and is appealing to a younger electorate, backed by social movements. Oliva, a young, politically inexperienced candidate from a lower income neighborhood, is seen as a fresh face ready to shake up traditional politics.

Claudio Orrego is a familiar face in Chilean politics, who received support from the Chilean right, whose candidate lost in the first round already. Orrego has presented himself as a candidate with experience and realistic plans. But because he received support from the right and is member of the Christian Democrats, which his opponents see as an establishment party, he became an easy target for the Broad Front , who accuse him of representing elite politics.

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