March 9, 2014
Incumbent Sapag projected winner in Neuquen's gubernatorial elections
With a 38.12 percent of the votes recounted, Neuquén’s Popular Movement party, led by incumbent Jorge Sapag was the projected winner with a 46.87 percent of the electorate on his side in the province’s gubernatorial elections. Marín Farizano, who is seen as a friend of the National Government, was far behind with a 33.13 percent of the votes.
Despite the massive ash cloud affecting most of the Neuquén territory, polling stations in the province closed minutes after 6 pm with reports of a “high turnout.”
Over 400,000 voters cast their ballots in order to elect a governor, 35 provincial lawmakers, mayors and councilmen in 17 cities.
Election officials announced that the final results would probably be announced by early Monday morning, since the recount was expected to be very slow due to the large presence of combined-list ballots.
Governor Jorge Sapag, an ally to the National Government, is hoping to be reelected in a battle against a large opposition front led by Radical gubernatorial candidate Martín Farizano, who currently holds the office of the mayor in the province’s capital.
The election process in the province was tarnished by the falling ashes spewed by the Puyehue volcano, which has remained active in Chile since last Sunday, and the addition of strong winds that affected visibility in several areas of the province.
Electoral judge Mauricio Zabala confirmed that, despite the inclement weather, all polling stations in the province were open in due form and at the right time early in the morning.
The largest inconvenience found during the day was in the city of Villa La Angostura, the most affected by the volcanic ash since the eruption began a week ago.
“The power went out in two schools and we had to bring in two generators,” he explained, although he was quick to assure that “the situation was now under control.”
Early in the morning, gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Villar (ARI) had said he lamented that the elections had been carried out anyway “despite the stressful situation that was affecting the province.”
“People in Villa La Angostura are very upset. Some people even campaigned to discourage voters from heading to the polls,” he said, although the initiative had seemingly attained little results.
He also denounced a “systematic ballots theft” throughout the province.
Libres del Sur party candidate Paula Sánchez sent her support to the people living in the areas affected by the ash cloud, and asked them to come out and vote despite the problems posed by low visibility and strong winds.
“I trust that the population will understand our message, that the province needs a change. That it needs political renovation,” she stated as she urged them to head towards the polling stations.
Besides electing a governor and 35 provincial lawmakers, the population of Neuquén also voted to choose their school counselors and mayors in 50 cities.