- The election of the centre-right Sebastián Piñera as Chile’s President in a run-off over the last weekend comes at a critical juncture, with the country’s political boundaries in the post-Pinochet era being redrawn. The two-party dominance characteristic of the past three decades has effectively ended, thanks to the system of proportional representation brought in by the outgoing President, Michelle Bachelet.
- A direct fallout of the electoral reform is the emergence of the left-wing Frente Amplio, which counts among its supporters the new middle classes that shot to prominence during the South American commodities boom of the previous decade. It romped home as Chile’s third largest political force in recent legislative elections, surprising pollsters. Among the front’s priorities is the establishment of a constituent assembly to draft a new Constitution, and thus break completely from the Pinochet years. To be sure, Mr. Piñera’s victory raises expectations of the country’s return to the robust economic performance of his previous term during 2010-14. An immediate challenge before him is Chile’s meagre growth rate, of below 2%, which is ascribed to the failure of Ms. Bachelet’s welfarist economics.
- A particularly ticklish issue for Mr. Piñera, a former airline magnate, would be fulfilling his poll promise to roll back labour reforms and enact corporate tax cuts. The sizeable presence in Congress of the Frente Amplio as well as of splinter groups from the centre-left coalition could limit room for manoeuvre. Any curbs on access to higher education, for instance, would run counter to the prevailing mood among the middle class, which wants further improvements to the overall standard of living. Chile’s mining lobby meanwhile wants regulations on permits to be eased, in order to capitalise on global demand for copper, which accounts for a large share of the country’s exports. In his second term, Mr. Piñera will have to walk a tightrope between the competing demands of the business community and the upwardly mobile sections of the population. Along with the 2015 election of the business-friendly Mauricio Macri as President in Argentina, Mr. Piñera’s return signals a further consolidation of the centre-right in Latin America. The rightward swing is expected to spread across the region, as governments scheduled to face the electorate in the coming months are mired in corruption scandals. Economic consolidation is a critical priority in Latin America, still reeling under the effects of the plummeting commodities markets in recent years. But governments may not be able to ignore demands that the fruits of growth be distributed evenly.
Juncture: a particular point in events or time.
It is difficult to say at this juncture whether this upturn can be sustained
Synonyms: point, point in time, time, moment, moment in time, period
Dominance: power and influence over others.
Example: The worldwide dominance of Hollywood
Synonyms: supremacy, superiority, ascendancy, preeminence, predominance
Reform: the action or process of reforming an institution or practice.
Example: The reform of the divorce laws
Synonyms: improvement, amelioration, refinement, alteration, change
Prominence: the state of being important or famous.
Example: She came to prominence as an artist in the 1960s
Synonyms: fame, celebrity, eminence, preeminence, importance, distinction
Romped: play roughly and energetically.
Example: The noisy pack of children romped around the garden
Synonyms: play, frolic, frisk, gambol, skip, prance, caper, cavort, rollick, sport
Expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
Example: Reality had not lived up to expectations
Synonyms: supposition, assumption, presumption, conjecture, surmise
Meagre: lacking in quantity or quality.
Example: They were forced to supplement their meager earnings
Synonyms: inadequate, scanty, scant, paltry, limited, restricted, modest
Ascribed: attribute something to a cause.
Example: He ascribed Jane’s short temper to her upset stomach
Synonyms: attribute to, assign to, put down to, accredit to, credit to
Prevail: prove more powerful than opposing forces.
Example: It is hard for logic to prevail over emotion
Synonyms: win, win out/through, triumph, be victorious, carry the day, come out on top
Consolidation: the action or process of making something stronger or more solid.
Example: The permanent consolidation of peace
Plummet: fall or drop straight down at high speed.
Example: A climber was killed when he plummeted 300 feet down an icy gully
Synonyms: plunge, nosedive, dive, drop, fall, descend, hurtle