Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chile: Campaign Headquarters of Former President Michelle Bachelet, 62, Destroyed, Arson Suspected

According to The Latin American Tribune, arson is suspected in a fire that destroyed most of a campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet, 62, Chilean authorities said Tuesday (November 12).

The fire reportedly broke out at 0300 hours in a building located in the Santiago district of Maipu and destroyed 60% of the structure before firefighters managed to extinguish it.

“In one sector, a bottle with fuel residue was found which could be a Molotov cocktail,” Maipu fire chief Ricardo Becerra told reporters.

COMMENT: The site was used to store mainly printed election materials for Bachelet, a former president (2006-2o10) who is favored to win the November 17 election, and for Alberto Undurraga, a senatorial candidate for the New Majority opposition coalition.

Undurraga, the former mayor of Maipu, said that so far all available information points to arson.

Specialized firefighting personnel and the police are examining the evidence to determine whether the fire was intentionally set, a situation that would disrupt the calm that has prevailed to date in the Chilean election campaign.

Typically, most contemporary Chilean elections have been orderly, although there is always the potential for the act of a "lone wolf extremist." 

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jería, a former head of state representing the center-left New Majority, is expected to defeat the governing rightist coalition outright in Chile’s November 17 presidential election, a poll released Tuesday (October 29) predicts.

Bachelet, who served as Chile's President during  2006-2010, enjoys support from 47% of potential voters, compared with 14% for Evelyn Matthei, according to the survey by respected polling group, CEP.

Independent right-wing candidate Franco Parisi will receive 10% and the nominee of the Progressive Party, Marco Enriquez-Ominami, will garner only 7% of the electorate, the survey predicts.   

Excluding null votes and blank ballots, Bachelet would trounce Matthei by 60% to 17%, CEP reported.

Thus, if the polling results hold true in the actual election, it would not be necessary to hold a runoff provisionally set for December 15.

In addition, considering the results of surveys of voters who said they will certainly vote, those who will probably vote, those who voted in past municipal elections and those who expressed an interest in voting, Bachelet is poised to obtain 52-54% compared with 16-19% for Matthei.