Monday, 6 June 2011

Latest polls.... the Toledization of Chile

Last week's publication of May's Adimark poll shows that the Piñera government is in the doldrums. This led to frenzied speculation that a cabinet shuffle was in the works, even though the president himself was travelling in Europe. The UDI was (is) particularly eager to remove Interior Minister Hinzpeter, whom many blame for the lack of political dexterity the government has exhibited in recent months. RN, for their part, are anxious to remove Ena von Baer. But Piñera returned to Chile on Sunday and announced there would be no reshuffle.

Two observations can be made. On the one hand, Piñera clearly sees cabinet changes as signs of weakness, rather than political responsiveness or accountability. Since coming to power, he has only removed people (Ossandon, van Rysselberghe, etc) when their position becomes absolutely untenable or when they show clear insubordination. That is not the case with von Baer or Hinzpeter (in fact, quite the opposite).

Second, as I observed in this column in El Dínamo, we are entering a period where high growth rates and a generally good economic situation is not being reflected in poll numbers. This is troubling, and in the column I make the connection with Toledo's Peru. The disconnect between economic performance and political popularity tends to create space for extra-systemic actors; populists, caudillos, Ollana Humalas, etc.

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