Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Piñera’s Approval Rating Gets a Boost

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Chilean President Sebastián Piñera’s approval rating rose to 33 percent in May, according to a poll released on Monday by Santiago-based pollster Adimark Gfk. The boost is due to the Central Bank’s mid-May report that the Chilean economy grew 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Adimark reported that lower fuel prices and Piñera’s mea culpa on how the government dealt with social unrest in Aysén and Freirina during a speech last month were also factors.

Monday’s result was welcome news for the center-right president one month after his approval numbers dipped to all-time low of 26 percent in April—the lowest for a sitting president since the end of General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990. But the boost may be short-lived. Despite solid economic growth, Chileans are wary of the widening income gap and many do not feel like they have benefited from the copper-fueled boom, according to the poll.

It is not clear whether low approval of the president will affect his coalition. Several of Piñera’s key ministers remain popular, including Public Works Minister Laurence Golborne, Defense Minister Andrés Allamand and Economy and Tourism Minister Pablo Longueira. Given Chile’s electoral law prohibiting immediate reelection, these ministers are favored to represent the Right in the 2013-2014 presidential election.  “They have good chances in 2013” against the likely center-left opponent, Former President Michelle Bachelet, according to Patricio Navia, professor at the Universidad Diego Portales and New York University.

Tags: Approval Rating, Chile, Chilean Social Conflict, President Sebastian Piñera
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