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Cablegate: Santiago Dec. 12-14 Media Report

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TAGS: ECON KMDR KPAO PGOV PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: Santiago Dec. 12-14 Media Report

Lead Story

1. Results of Sunday's presidential election: Right-wing
Sebastian Pinera 44.03%; center-left ruling coalition candidate
Eduardo Frei 29.62%; independent Marco Enriquez-Ominami 20.12%, and
Socialist Party candidate Jorge Arrate 6.21%. This means that
Pinera and Frei will go to a runoff on January 17. In the
congressional election, the ruling coalition lost its majority in
the Chamber of Deputies, but recovered it in the Senate (All
dailies, 12/14).

Presidential Election

2. Pinera's team believes that one third of those who voted for
Enriquez-Ominami in the first round will vote for its candidate in
the runoff (Conservative, influential El Mercurio, 12/14).

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3. Since the onset of democracy in 1989, no other independent
candidate had received more votes than Enriquez-Ominami on Sunday.
However, none of the candidates that he supported for Congress won.
In his concession speech yesterday, Enriquez-Ominami said both Frei
and Pinera represent leaders of "the past" and not the future.
"Neither is the expression of a better country," he said. Socialist
Jorge Arrate received more votes than any other left-wing coalition
candidate since the return of democracy (El Mercurio).

4. Pinera's runoff campaign will focus on change, youth, and the
middle class. Frei, on the other hand, will try to "polarize" the
election as much as possible to relive the antagonism and results
of the 1988 "Yes/No" plebiscite (Conservative, independent La
Tercera, 12/14).

5. 43.9% of men voted for Pinera; 30.45 for Frei; 18.7% for
Enriquez-Ominami, and 6.8% for Arrate; 44.1% of women voted for
Pinera, 28.8% for Frei, 21.3% for Enriquez-Ominami, and 5.6% for
Arrate. The abstention rate was 13.88% (La Tercera, 12/14).

6. The results of the presidential and parliamentary election are
a big blow for the ruling coalition. Pinera not only received a
percentage that is considered very hard to surpass, his coalition
also won the highest number of seats in Congress, and a large
number of women -- presumably Bachelet's "captive" voters -- voted
for him (La Tercera, 12/14).

7. With Enriquez-Ominami out of the election, Pinera can now
recover his place as the candidate who represents change. Frei, on
the other hand, is facing his worst scenario and will try to
conquer those who voted for Enriquez-Ominami. He will do this by
confronting Pinera on the relationship between business and
politics, human rights issues, and by warning about social problems
with an eventual right-wing government (La Tercera, 12/14).

Parliamentary Election

8. The ruling coalition lost its majority in the Chamber of
Deputies (57 versus 58 seats) and right- wing UDI party has now the
largest representation in the Chamber (23.1%). The Socialist Party
lost several seats (La Tercera, 12/14).

9. The ruling coalition recovered the majority in the Senate with
19 senators. The opposition alliance has 17 seats (El Mercurio,
12/14).

10. An agreement with the ruling coalition allowed the Communist
Party to elect three representatives to the Chamber of Deputies.
This is the first time the CP has representation in Congress since
the onset of democracy in 1990 (La Tercera, 12/14).

11. The Christian Democratic has now majority representation in
Congress: 19 deputies and 9 senators. The number of women in the
Senate increased from two to six, the largest number since 1990.
Of the 18 elected senators, 12 are newcomers. This means that 2/3
thirds of senators in office for the next eight years are new (El
Mercurio, 12/14).

Commentaries

12. "The question has been answered. Frei and Pinera will face
each other in a runoff. But although Pinera has a comfortable
advantage, he did not reach the tipping point that would have left
him with the victory in his pocket" (Eugenio Tironi, El Mercurio,
12/14).

13. "If the (ruling) Concertacion coalition wants to stay in
power... it must start to look for Enriquez-Ominami's support and
of those political leaders who support him.... This election
clearly shows that the Concertacion is still a strong political
force and that the right, in spite of having a moderate and modern
candidate, does not have the ability to attract a majority"
(Political commentator Patricio Navia, La Tercera, 12/14).

14. "The Concertacion had never before faced such a radical and
inextricable threat such as the percentage obtained by Pinera
(Ascanio Cavallo, La Tercera, 12/14).

15. Editorial "The message of the presidential and congressional
election is that Chileans want change, where the renewal of leaders
is a priority.... There is much at stake here. On the one hand
there is the possibility that the ruling coalition might stay in
power after two decades in office. The other is that a
center-right coalition will occupy La Moneda for the first time in
50 years. It is important that both sides defend their positions
using good tools, but it is also important that they put the
interest of the country above everything else" (La Tercera, 12/14).


U.S. - Latin America

16. Headline:" Secretary Hillary Clinton calls on Venezuela and
Nicaragua to stay on democratic path." The Secretary warned
countries in the hemisphere to "think twice" before approaching
Iran. The secretary defended the U.S. reaction to the coup in
Honduras stating that her country had used a "pragmatic and
multilateral approach of principles," to restore democracy in that
country. She urged Latin American countries to stay on the
democratic path and expressed the U.S. concern with legitimately
elected leaders who after elected undermine democratic order and
people's rights (El Mercurio, 12/12).
SIMONS

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