Chilean Right Goes Adrift After Parties Do Not Agree On Evelyn Matthei As Presidential Candidate

 @PReyMallen
on July 22 2013 2:53 PM

Chile’s right-wing coalition cannot agree on a presidential candidate. The two parties that form the conservative contender in the second-wealthiest nation in South America by GDP per capita are bumping heads over who should represent them in the November election, after the sudden resignation of former candidate Pablo Longueira due to severe depression.

Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI) and Renovación Nacional (RN), the parties in the coalition, have different ideas about who would be a worthy opponent to former president Michelle Bachelet, who represents the Socialists and is running to lead the country again after winning her primaries with an overwhelming 74 percent of the votes. Pressed for time, UDI nominated Evelyn Matthei, the current Minister for Labor, as their representative, but RN is having none of it.

“She is not our favorite. It’s nothing personal, it’s complex -- but just the way it is,” said RN secretary Mario Desbordes. The coalition has given itself until Monday night to agree on a candidate. If no agreement is reached, the most likely scenario is for the two parties to go their separate ways and run their own candidates.

RN’s candidate was former Minister for Defense Andrés Allamand, who lost the primaries against Longueira by a narrow margin. Allamand was never a favorite of UDI, reported Spanish newspaper El País, and he lost credibility when he reacted poorly to losing to Longueira.

UDI believes Matthei has large support in the coalition, including that of current President Sebastián Piñera, and defends that she is the only candidate who can face Bachelet in the election. “It is very different to have a candidate who represents the coalition and who is supported by everyone, to having a candidate with possibilities of winning the election,” said Matthei. “I think Michelle Bachelet has a huge chance of winning, so I think the coalition should get to work immediately.”

This would not be the first time the coalition brings two candidates to an election: In 2005, Sebastián Piñera represented UDI, and RN had Joaquín Lavín as its representative. They both lost to Michele Bachelet.  

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