Sunday is the runoff election for the presidency of Chile. Indications are that the candidate of the Concertación, Michelle Bachelet, will win easily, making her the fourth consecutive president from the center-left Concertación alliance since the end of the Augusto Pinochet miltary dictatorship.
The first round, held concurrently with the election for the Chamber of Deputies and half the Senate seats, in December was considerably more interesting, for the unusual alliance behavior it featured.
At the first round, the Concertación won a majority in the senate. Also, comparing the 2005 and 2001 deputies results posted by Adam Carr, the Concertación gained 3.9 percentage points in the vote from 2001, winning a majority of the vote, but picked up only 3 new seats (2.5%). This underscores the extent to which Chile’s legislative electoral system of two-seat districts dampens the leading alliance’s seat bonus. As for the center-right alliance, despite (or because of) its having two presidential candidates in the first round, it lost votes compared to 2001, from 44.3% to 39.0%. That is a loss of 5.3 percentage points, yet it lost only 3 seats–again due to the electoral system.
The two candidates of the right combined for 48.6% of the votes in the first round, yet their common ticket for the Chamber of Deputies could not even reach 40%!
Bachelet’s first-round vote share was 45.9%, and there was also another leftist candidate not affiliated with the Concertación running, and he won 5.4%. This was actually less than the far-left alliance managed for deputies (7.5%, but no seats). The inescapable conclusion from these data is that Concertación legislative candidates must have obtained significant votes from voters who favored one of the right-wing presidential candidates. That the right could not generate coattails even with two presidential candidates suggests this electoral cycle was quite a defeat for them, even beyond their likely failure to capture the presidency.