December 5, 2013
LATIN AMERICAFriday, October 18, 2013
Bachelet polling 3 times higher than Matthei
Survey shows runoff likely but large percentage still undecided
SANTIAGO — A new poll shows former president Michelle Bachelet is expected to win the first round of Chile’s presidential election, but will likely face a runoff.
The Diego Portales University (UDP) poll released yesterday sees centre-left candidate Bachelet picking up nearly 38 percent of likely votes in the first round balloting on November 17. Meanwhile, ruling party candidate Evelyn Matthei would get 12.3 percent; independent Franco Parisi would receive 10.6 percent; New Majority candidate Marco Enríquez Ominami would get seven percent and Humanist Party candidate Marcel Claude would get 3.8 percent.
The rest of the candidates didn’t reach the one-percent mark. More than 16 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t vote for any of the candidates or said that they didn’t know who they would vote for.
For the first time, Chileans won’t be obliged by law to participate in the election, which makes forecasts more difficult. Given the uncertainty regarding turnout, the UDP analyzed several different scenarios taking into consideration people’s willingness to vote.
In the most excluding scenario considered — with only the people who said they were “sure” or “completely sure” that they would vote included in the sample — results were considerably different: Bachelet got 45.2 percent; Matthei, 15.9 percent; Parisi, 12 percent, Enríquez-Ominami 7.3 percent and Claude 4.6 percent.
Bachelet, however, would face a runoff in all the scenarios considered.
When faced with different scenarios for a runoff, the results per pair were as follows: Bachelet 47.4 percent v. Matthei 17.2 percent; Bachelet 43.3 percent vs. Enríquez Ominami 18.6 percent; and Bachelet 44.5 vs. Parisi 18.8 percent.
Like in past surveys, the UDP poll showed Bachelet is most popular between low class and older voters, while Matthei’s voters are concentrated in upper class segments. Parisi and Enríquez Ominami have more support among the young.
The poll also showed that President Sebastián Piñera is still as unpopular as he was in the beginning of the year. Only 33.3 percent of Chileans have a positive image of Piñera, compared to the 33.2 percent who approved of him during the first semestre of 2013.
One of the survey’s most relevant conclusions is that the big majority of Chileans doesn’t feel identified with any political party or coalition, though the number of people who identify themselves as rightists or leftists grew since the beginning of the year. Analysts attributed this to polarization in times of elections.
Free education for all?
Regarding education, a key issue during the campaign, the poll showed that it is the subject that most divides Chileans. Forty-two percent agreed with the assertion that higher education (university and tertiary education) should be free for all, while 55.5 percent said it should be free only for those who cannot pay for it.
Socioeconomic differences proved to be central to the issue. More than 61 percent of lower class voters said education should be free only for those who can’t pay for it, while the percentage dropped to 49.5 percent among middle- and upper-class voters.
Protests demanding free and quality education have complicated Piñera’s job. Opposition candidate Bachelet has promised to overhaul the tax system to fund education.