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The Bachelet Government

Conflict and Consensus in Post-Pinochet Chile

Silvia Borzutzky and Gregory B. Weeks

Publication Year: 2010

Michelle Bachelet was the first elected female president of Chile, and the first women elected president of any South American country. What was just as remarkable, though less noted, was the success and stability of the political coalition that she represented, the Concertacion. Though Bachelet was the fourth consecutive Concertacion president, upon taking office her administration quickly faced a series of crises, including massive student protests, labor unrest, internal governmental divisions, and allegations of ineptitude and wrongdoing as a result of a major reorganization of Santiago's transportation system.

Candidate Bachelet promised not only different policies but also a different policymaking style--a style characterized by a kinder and gentler approach to politics in a country with a long tradition of machismo and strong male rulers. Bachelet promised to listen to the people and to return power to those who had been denied it in the past. Her attitude enhanced the influence of existing social movements and inspired the formation of new ones.

The Bachelet Government is the first book to examine the policies, political issues, and conflicts of Bachelet's administration, and the first to provide analyses of the challenges, successes, and failures experienced by the Concertacion since 1989.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix

We wish to thank Rosa Stipanovic for helping us prepare the manuscript with her usual efficiency and speed, Patricio Navia and the anonymous reviewer for the University Press...

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pp. 1-24

The political trajectory of Chilean president Michele Bachelet’s tenure in office has been nothing short of remarkable. When she was inaugurated, in March 2006, after a hard-fought runoff election against Sebastián Piñera of the conservative Alianza (Alliance) coalition, she brought with her considerable promise of change in...

Part 1. Leadership, Institutions, and Coalitional Crisis

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pp. 25

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1. What It Takes to Win and What It Takes to Govern: Michelle Bachelet and the Concertación

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pp. 27-49

On March 11, 2006, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was sworn into office, capturing international headlines. It was a defining moment in Latin American politics as Bachelet was the first female president of Chile and the first popularly elected...

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2. Parties, Personalities, and the President: The Challenges of the Bachelet Government’s Political Narrative

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pp. 50-66

By any measure, the inauguration of Michelle Bachelet was historic. As Chile approached its bicentenary year, it had elected its first female president and the first woman in Latin America to come to power through the ballot box and...

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3. The Transition Is Dead, Long Live the Transition: Civil-Military Relations and the Limits of Consensus

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pp. 67-84

Given her background, the inauguration of Michelle Bachelet was a clear sign that major political changes had taken place in Chile. Yet from 1990 forward, observers—from politics, civil society, academia, and/or the press— have applied the term “transition...

Part 2. Socioeconomic Policies and the Decline of Consensus

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pp. 85

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4. Socioeconomic Policies: Taming the Market in a Globalized Economy

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pp. 87-116

As discussed in the previous chapters, Michelle Bachelet’s election in December 2005 appeared to signal a new stage in Chile’s never ending transition to democracy. Bachelet promised a kinder, gentler Chile, a Chile where the market was going to...

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5. Challenging the Consensus: The Politics of Protest and Policy Reform in Chile’s Education System

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pp. 117-135

As observed in the introduction to this volume, since 1990 the ruling Concertación coalition governments have committed themselves to maintaining the Pinochet regime’s neoliberal economic model.1The Concertación adopted the rhetoric of “growth...

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6. Unresolved Conflicts within the Consensus: Bachelet’s Inheritance of Labor and Employment Issues

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pp. 136-157

In late August 2007, Chilean workers, organized by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), the country’s main union, took to the streets to protest the neoliberal economic outlook of the government in general, and that of its finance minister...

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7. Continuity or Change?: Gender Policy in the Bachelet Administration

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pp. 158-180

The campaign that led to the election of Chile’s first female president was marked by the themes of continuity and change.1 On the one hand, Bachelet was the candidate of the coalition that had already been in power for sixteen years, and most...

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8. Contesting Private Property Rights: The Environment and Indigenous Peoples

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pp. 181-214

From its birth the Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia, or Concertaciόn, included the environmental and indigenous peoples’ movements in its governing programs. However, as Gregory Weeks and Silvia Borzutzky argue in the introduction...

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Conclusion. Paved with Good Intentions: The Bachelet Administration and the Decline of Consensus

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pp. 215-222

On March 11, 2006, Michele Bachelet, the Socialist candidate of the Concertación center-left coalition, was inaugurated president of Chile after having won the runoff election with 53.5 percent of the votes, against 46 percent for her conservative...

List of Contributors

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pp. 223-226


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pp. 227-240

E-ISBN-13: 9780813045955
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813034751
Print-ISBN-10: 0813034752

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2010