Friday, 2 October 2009


I don't know if it is my imagination, by the current presidential campaign seems to be nastier than previous ones. Since the issues are non-existent, whatever debate there is seems to quickly descend into personal attacks. Nothing shows this more clearly than the manufactured outrage surrounding Eduardo Frei's reference to a Transparency International report which names Piñera as a protagonist in some alleged insider trading involving LAN stocks. The media-led frenzy overshadowed any rational analysis of the debate itself, not to mention Piñera's behaviour which led to the accusations. In the long run this is going to frustrate the hell out of the Concertación, and their message will become increasingly desperate and nasty.

But it will be worse on the right. There are already some rumblings from the UDI on Piñera's performance. But are they really complaining about the debate, or is the problem more profound? If you look at Piñera's actual policy statements and positions, inasmuch as they exist, he does not sound all that different from Frei. His promises sound like more of the same, only more so. More jobs created, more police on the streets, more social protection. More, more, more. I guess that's how billionaires become billionaires. They always want more.

For the UDI and others on the right, this is probably insufficient. Where is the social agenda? Where are the rollbacks on social spending? Where is the end to legal troubles for former military officers? Besides a promise of tax cuts (which seems unlikely in a country with a ridicuously low tax burden), these things have not been mentioned becuase they're not there.

So the right is getting frustrated, not because they are afraid Piñera might lose (and well he might), but because they are afraid Piñera might win.

And then watch them get nasty.

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