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News > Latin America

Low Voter Turnout Among Youth Expected in Chile Elections

  • Workers carry a voting booth in Santiago, Chile ahead of the elections.

    Workers carry a voting booth in Santiago, Chile ahead of the elections. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 November 2017

Chileans will choose their new president as they deal with voting discouragement across the country.

High rates of abstention are expected for the Chilean presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, when millions will choose a successor to outgoing President Michelle Bachelet.

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The Nov. 19 election will see record levels of citizen participation, particularly among youth, whose rates of abstention are projected to be close to 83 percent. Just over 14 million Chileans are able to vote to elect a new president, congressmen and senators.

Analysts quoted by Clarin said the phenomenon is linked to a large crisis of representation and a discouragement due to several corruption scandals in recent years.

They consider that many of those who abstain from voting do so with the objective of delegitimizing the current political system since they don't feel represented with the candidates. Meanwhile, others find that their vote won't translate into concrete public policy.

The demands for better job opportunities, greater access to a quality health system and education, fighting against crime and support for economic growth are among the main requests by citizens.

It's been a landmark campaign, with little political propaganda and a new electoral law that restricted expenses for candidates. Limits were also placed on television and radio ads and outdoor advertising was banned.

Turnout in recent Chilean elections has been notoriously low, with only 43 percent coming out for the 2013's general elections and only 13 percent going to polls for the recent primaries.

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Still, the government has attempted to address the issue, launching a separate campaign to keep the public involved and circulating messages with slogans such as “Come on, don’t get lost!” which has been adopted by several workers' unions.

While former president and businessman Sebastian Piñera has taken the lead in polls, with the greater part of the right-wing united behind him, the left is split between supporting the governing New Majority coalition and the Broad Front coalition.

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