On Thursday, Chilean President Michele Bachelet will complete her first 100 days in office. On the campaign trail, Bachelet promised 50 reforms in her first 100 days – an ambitious agenda in a country known for its political moderation and stability.
Indeed, in these first 100 days of her second time in La Moneda, the first being from 2006 to 2010, the president has proposed major reforms to the tax system, education, public health, and the pension system, and even spoken of introducing a new Constitution. Through these reforms, she has promised to deliver a more equal Chile, with prosperity that matches its strong economic performance.
Bachelet rode to victory last November on a platform promising to address the issues of ordinary Chileans. While Chile is a regional model for economic success, and rightfully wins praise as one of the hemisphere’s safest, most stable, and best-educated countries, it also suffers some of the region’s worst economic inequality, and is the most economically unequal member of the OECD. Social discontent at this inequality manifested itself in a number of protests during the administration of previous President SebastiánPiñera.
The rhetoric from the administration, and proposals such as the tax reform, which will raise taxes on corporations, have led some to spell the death knell of the economic fundamentals that have made Chile a byword for economic pragmatism. Indeed, analysts consulted by LBC, including Alfredo Coutiño, Director for Latin America at Moody’s Analytics, and Patricio Navia, a professor of political scientist at New York University and Chile’s Universidad Diego Portales, said the rhetoric of Bachelet’s government has been extreme. But both say fears that the country is moving too far to the left are overblown. “It’s important to distinguish between what the coalition is saying and what it is doing,” Navia told LBC. While the coalition has spoken of radical reform, their approach has been more gradual and incremental, he says.