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News > Latin America

President Piñera Ratings Slide After Ministers 'Misunderstood'

  • Chile's President Sebastian Piñera during a visit to the Panama Canal in Panama City, Panama July 10, 2018.

    Chile's President Sebastian Piñera during a visit to the Panama Canal in Panama City, Panama July 10, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 July 2018

After several faux pas on the part of two Chilean ministers, President Sebastian Piñera's rating drops by five points, his worst fall since taking office.

National polls show that Chilean president Sebastian Piñera’s approval rating fell 5 points in the past few days alone to 49 percent while disapproval of his administration rose from 33 to 37 percent. The news comes a week after the controversial comments of two ministers.  

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This is the Chilean president’s lowest approval rating since taking office in March.

Last week during a speech to participants at a teaching conference in Santiago, Secretary of Education Gerardo Varela told the crowd: "Every day I get complaints from people who want the ministry to fix the leaky roof of a school or a classroom that has a damaged floor. And I wonder, why don’t they (raise money) doing bingo?"

Chile’s Secretary of the Economy Jose Ramon Valente said in an interview that he recommends Chilean investors to send their money outside the country. "Would you advise a Chilean investor to transfer part of his investment in Chile abroad as you have done?" asked a reporter. "Definitely the answer is, yes," responded the minister.

The administration and Piñera’s conservative party, Chile Vamos, have supported the two cabinet members throughout the week.

President Piñera's public popularity fell from 54 percent in recent weeks to 49 percent.

In a pivot to protect his reputation, Piñera announced on Monday that all government members are under evaluation.

The president said: "We are working with our bodies and souls to improve the quality of life of Chileans. Consequently, of course, unfortunate words can occur.

“But we must never lose sight of the fundamentals,” said the president. Our commitment to Chileans is to give quality education to all our children," he added.

"As president of Chile, we are constantly evaluating the work done by authorities, (and) ministers. … A good president must be fully aware that he must have a very good team, so I permanently evaluate them," ended Piñera.

Varela defended himself on Monday during an interview: "If my words were misunderstood, I'll change them," the education minister said about his earlier comments.

"If we have a problem with infrastructure, the state cannot do it alone. It's a job that we all have to do," he added. 

President of National Renewal center-right party, Mario Desbordes, said: "The honeymoon is over."

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