Betrayed voters are hungry for real change

Richard Lapper charts Latin America’s disillusion with corruption and economic malaise as elections loom

The World Today Published 15 December 2017 Updated 18 November 2020 4 minute READ

When she went to vote last month in Chile’s presidential election Maria José Fredes, 47, an event organizer from Santiago, left her ballot paper blank. Fredes, who has in the past backed the ruling centre-left coalition led most recently by Michelle Bachelet, is disappointed about the choices on offer.

‘I did not want to vote just against the right. It didn’t seem sufficient.’ She described Alejandro Guillier, a former TV presenter and Bachelet’s intended successor, as a ‘figurehead imposed by the media’.

Fredes isn’t alone in her disillusion. Less than half of Chilean voters – 46.7 per cent – cast a ballot in last month’s contest. And elsewhere in Latin America, where four of the region’s six largest economies − Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela − face elections in the next 12 months, there are similar signs of malaise.

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